TN Economist Category Visa Changes Dec 19, 2017 - Any TN Economists Working in Hedge Funds?

The USISC today imposed restrictions on individuals working in the U.S. under the NAFTA TN Visa's Economist category. This change disallows people working in Financial Analyst and Market Research Analyst roles from obtaining the TN visa. My question to all those working in investment analysis roles at US hedge funds on TN visas is that does this change impact you, and what is your job description listed as in your TN applications?

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Comments (109)

Dec 20, 2017 - 11:39am

This is terrible. Essentially, it means Canadian won't be able to use the TN for any finance jobs, not just HF. Reading the press release is so frustrating too.....

"USCIS is committed to carrying out the directives of the President's Buy American and Hire American Executive Order to better protect the interests of U.S. workers. Ensuring the integrity of guest worker programs is consistent with our Buy American, Hire American initiatives.".....

Dec 20, 2017 - 2:17pm

So I did a quick google after seeing this thread and it seems like the they were clarifying the rules so that financial analyst don't quality anymore. However, I read the USCIS briefing and it seems like they are saying they are adding a new category called financial analysis to the list of qualifying occupations, which to me, seems like a very sensible thing to do. Here's the relevant language:

"With respect to the occupation of financial analyst, USCIS recognizes that economists and
financial analysts are related occupations and that there may occasionally be some similarity in the activities of these two occupational categories. As differentiated from economists, however, financial analysts primarily conduct quantitative analyses of information affecting investment programs of public or private institutions. Recognizing that these types of positions are not the same, the SOC separates these occupations into two categories. Therefore, to be consistent with the SOC, USCIS is clarifying that economists and financial analysts are two separate occupations for the purposes of qualifying for TN nonimmigrant status pursuant to NAFTA. "

Dec 20, 2017 - 3:15pm

No dude, that is not what is being said at all. USCIS cannot just add a profession to the NAFTA list. The new guidelines place stricter parameters around a given applicant's eligibility for Economist status, by clarifying the duties of an economist to not include those of a financial analyst. Again, title doesn't matter here, rather what matters is the nature of your role and whether or not it corresponds to the Bureau of Labor's strict definition of economist.

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Dec 20, 2017 - 3:23pm

I am actually in shock that this is not splattered over BNN right now. This is a very, very big deal. I get that Canada has a brain drain problem (it is a frozen wasteland after all run by a rotten aristocrat class), but there simply aren't enough jobs here to absorb what will inevitably be a massive influx of talent back into Canada. Think about it, a pump&dump boutique IB in Toronto puts up a posting for a $40K/60 hour week/no bonus job that entails writing issuer-sponsored research (only in Canada lol..), and the thing gets 500 applications in two weeks. Can you imagine what the competition will be like for the more respectable jobs? Man! Unless you can marry an American man or woman, you are toast when your TN visa runs up if you haven't been able to secure an H1B and if you work in IB, PE, sales/trading, or as an analyst at an HF, PF, Endowment, or family office. Time to get rich off of crypto ladies and gents, HODLHODLHODL.

Dec 20, 2017 - 3:27pm

Dude, it doesn't really matter what your degree is in -what matters is the nature of your responsibilities and whether that set of duties primarily corresponds to the BLS definition of an economist. I.e. if you have an offer in investment banking, or if you work in IB and need to roll your TN three more years, good luck getting your employer to provide you with even a half-sensible attestation letter describing M&A advisory as constituting micro/macro economic research.

But yes, I'd say financial services is going to get really crowded back home in the next little while, as I don't see the H1B cap going up anytime soon.

I guess this will prove what we have always known: Canada is a resource rich vacuum, controlled by a tiny aristocrat class, sitting just north of a great empire. I'd say on a resources per capita basis, we are among the wealthiest of nations, yet why aren't we driving on gold paved roads in rolls royces? Hell, I'm voting NDP next go around. Let's embrace the true communists that we are and take this socialism thing to the next level! All hail Mighty Son of Fidel Castro, our Supreme Leader, Beaver Messiah, Eternal Deity, Divine Being, Keeper of Our Wealth, and Great Northern Sheppard Justin Trudeau!!!

Dec 20, 2017 - 2:07pm

Now, regarding whether there is going to be a grandfathering clause here or not, legal opinion is split on that. Some say the policy change affects only new applicants (those freshly applying and those renewing existing visas), while some say that existing holders may be re-tested by CBP officers upon attempted re-entry in the U.S. following travel abroad (namely, back to Canada). My theory here is that existing holders will be fine for the time being, but if you are travelling back home for Christmas (We can at least say 'Merry Christmas' again!) then make sure you have a way to spin whatever it is you do as macroeconomic research. Then again, if they want to drill someone (I doubt it) in PE, IB, or at a HF, there's nothing you can say, without violently lying, that won't be blatantly interpreted as the duties of the newly excluded, previously accepted "Financial Analyst" extension of the "economist" role. In sum, everyone's best bet is to find an American significant other and EXPEDITE marriage ASAP. GLTFA.

Dec 20, 2017 - 3:42pm

Anyone had to go through customs after the revision to the TN Economist definition? Curious if there is a higher level of scrutiny now, since my immigration lawyer said CBP might not enforce this yet (regulation was put out by USCIS).

I am currently in Canada, and my firm rewrote an employment verification letter to better gear it towards the new definition of Economist. Pray to god it works...

Dec 20, 2017 - 3:45pm

So do I travel back home to Canada for the holidays? I've heard mixed reviews from lawyers etc about the impacts of this. Again - it's a major policy shift and I'm curious to see how much drilling the CBP does when returning after travel. Unsure if I'm willing to take that kind of risk as the guinea pig. Is anyone cancelling travel plans due to this?

Best Response
Dec 20, 2017 - 6:20pm

Look, I read through this carefully and talked to my lawyer today.

  1. If you are on TN Visa, you should be okay for now.

  2. If you need to get on a visa, you must state that your "PRIMARY" duty is as an economist, but you can state that "Secondary" duty may involve the duties of a financial analyst. Ie. make sure to talk your lawyer to ensure your letter states it 100%.

  3. I think people are overreacting to this news, the laws are the same, UCIS has had this policy for many years for computer programmers who work on TN Category "Computer System analyst". A computer system analyst's PRIMARY duty is to analyze systems, not program, even though they may still program as a secondary duty.

    Now, there are thousands of programmers who get visas as system analysts, even though all they do is program, and don't analyze systems at all, but smart lawyers can draft a letter that describes their duties as system analyst, and when CBP asks what their primary duty is they respond it is analyzing systems not programming.

TL:DR No laws have been changed, USCIS will be scrunitizing more, but the way around this issue is to have your lawyer draft a letter that emphasizes your primary duty is economist and secondary duty is financial analyst, and you will be okay.

Dec 20, 2017 - 6:58pm

This is straight from the Memo: "Whether a particular job is that of an economist is determined by the primary activity, not by the title. For purposes of the TN classification, the** profession of economist must not primarily include the activity of other occupations, such as, but not limited to, those performed by financial analysts, market research analysts, and marketing specialists.**"

The key word is primarily here. If you can get your lawyer to draft a letter describing your job duties as primarily that of an economist, then you will be okay. Everyone needs to calm down, people in Compsci has been dealing with this problem since the beginning of time.

Dec 26, 2017 - 6:07pm

I flew back this morning from Pearson to LGA and it was not an issue at all. Officer did not ask any additional questions after "what do you do?" I responded, "I'm an economist." I think my job description does legitimately fit that of an economist, but I was still happy to not have any trouble.

Jan 10, 2018 - 8:56pm

No issue on my end. It seems the next test will be for new apps. Btw you are all deserters for abandoning this thread and failing to share your respective experiences. To be honest, I probably hate 99.99% of you so I have no idea why I am even extending the courtesy of informing you all about my own experience or giving this thread any further momentum. Frankly, I hope you all get sent back to your frozen wasteland homes and are subsequently forced to pray to a macaroni sculpture of your socialist messiah PM who also happens to be the confirmed son of Fidel Castro. Typical bunch of free-riding, low-to-no conviction, value-sucking, spineless Canadians who say sorry superficially and smile through their teeth. SHAME!

Jan 11, 2018 - 4:28am

I'm returning to the US at the end of January so I"ll make sure I update everyone. Thank you for posting about your experience.

Jan 19, 2018 - 10:26am

Naw man people here are filthy leeches so don't count on any updates. What is the gig for? IB? ER? HF? PE? How flexible is your employer prepared to be in drafting your employee verification letter? I.e. are they willing to describe your primary duties in a manner that corresponds to the DOL definition of 'economist' ? Do you have an econ undergrad or graduate degree?

Jan 19, 2018 - 10:47am

Well they are working hard with their immigration lawyers to see what can be done. They told me that they have been advised that there's only a 5-10% chance that it works, and want to decide from a corporate perspective if they are willing to take the risk.

I also mentioned that if they provide me with the required docs, I can drive to the border and find out in a day (no need to wait 1-2month), so they're considering this as well. What a fucked up situation

Jan 19, 2018 - 10:53am

Yeah your solution is much better. You just need a letter that puts a spin on your duties so that the primary nature of your work corresponds to that of an economist. What kind of job is it? What kind of educational background do you have? 5-10% seems INSANELY low.. it is a shame that more appear are not responding to this issue with more interest, i.e. providing their own insights from their own recent experiences with their current or prospective employer.

Jan 19, 2018 - 11:12am

I haven't seen any consensus among attorneys yet on how to handle the issue. Some say that USCIS and CBP aren't communicating well, so just do everything at the boarder versus sending a package in for review. Has anyone actually been re-adjudicated with re-entry?

Jan 20, 2018 - 10:56pm

In regards to getting the TN at the border (through the CBP) or the USCIS (via mail), you should note that if have approval from the USCIS, it is much harder for the border guards to stop re-entry during future travels. The border guards usually defer to the USCIS approval notice. If they want to take away your TN, they have to go through the USCIS to revoke your approval (a bit of a process) - my lawyer has yet to see a border guard turn back anyone that had approval notice from the USCIS. However, it is much easier for them to take away your TN if you got it from the border. The TN sucks in regards to re-entry because the border guards have the authority to take away it (like they have the authority to give it) - you cannot get your H1b visa taken away by a border guard.

Also if you are already under TN status and go to the border to get a new TN - they could reject your new TN and also take away your current TN.

Jan 22, 2018 - 11:35am

Well to be fair, Canadians have benefited from socialized education and enjoyed virtually unrestricted access, through the 'economist' loophole (yes, it was a loophole), to the u.s. financial services industry since the inception of nafta. Given that people in the u.s. pay and risk a lot more to go to school, and that Canadians coming in to work as bankers or traders are not exactly contributing much to economic growth, it is somewhat unfair to allow this virtually unrestricted access to continue. The 'economist' loophole allowed many Canadians to escape the frozen wasteland and get rich, but now it seems that the gravy train is simply coming to an end and we will all have to face the reality that Canada is an aristocratic swamp run by 40 families and incapable of meaningful wealth creation -some combination of insurance scams, fraud, and shwarma/falafel shops is the way to get wealthy here.

Feb 14, 2018 - 11:45pm

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Jan 29, 2018 - 3:20pm

I didn't know about the change and went home over the holidays (thanks for nothing, lawyers). Didn't have any problems crossing. I'm not planning on chancing it in the future though, no plans to travel outside the US for now, company will sponsor me for the H1B and depending on how that plays out, could even work remotely.

Feb 4, 2018 - 10:54pm

I personally got rejected by the USCIS, but then was granted the visa at the border right befor the economist clarification on November 20th. However, I may change employers now and I'm worried that I'll have an issue doing so. I guess the path is H1B, but I wouldn't be able to work before then.

Has anyone gone through the change of employer situation under the economist visa in the 2-3 months?

Feb 10, 2018 - 8:29pm

Hi All,

Is there any information regarding the process/are there any testimonials for Canadian citizens who have accepted PE/IB SA offers for 2018 as well as those who have accepted FT offers starting in summer 2018?

Feb 19, 2018 - 1:15pm

I was accepted under the Economist category in May 2016 as a "financial analyst". Assuming I'm still employed by May 2019, I will have to go back and renew my TN visa. At the time, I went through the border physically instead of mailing any documents and obtained it. My question is, assuming my role is still the same and with the new TN Economist category provisions that came out in Nov. 2017 concerning "financial analysts" not being applicable under the category, do I try and convince my employer to sponsor for H1b which they've been reluctant to do so? Or do I try to obtain a new letter mentioning my role as strictly "economist" when I renew my TN visa next year? My concern with the latter option is that the border may question my role and say that if I'm renewing my visa, since I was accepted under economist category by way of "financial analyst" role, that renewing it would no longer be an option? Any thoughts or recommendations? It would be greatly appreciated, especially if anyone has applied for this category subsequent to the Nov 2017 TN Economist provisions. Thanks!

Feb 23, 2018 - 12:35pm

Just an update - I came back to the US at the end of January and the border agent did question me for 20-30 minutes. He specifically asked if I had spoken to my company lawyers to see if I still fell within the economist category and I also had to describe my job duties in detail. My title does include the word economist and the duties are not of a financial analyst which is why I think he was more inclined to let me through. He did say that a few people who were working for investment banks and as financial analysts had been declined re-entry earlier on in the week. This was at SFO. Hope this helps!

Apr 5, 2018 - 5:46pm

Does anyone know any M&A bankers under TN visa with an Accounting classification? And any anecdotes out there regarding renewal of the TN so far?

My company is going to try to renew my visa soon so any advice / stories would be appreciated!

Apr 27, 2018 - 1:33am

Yes, a new rule was passed last year that allows one to stay 60 days after termination of employment. If you don't find a new job by then, you could re-enter the country under a Canadian visitor's visa for 6 months, but would have to go back to the border before doing so.

Apr 27, 2018 - 1:45am

Hey everyone, I am currently tackling the same dilemma. I got a new job as an analyst at an Endowment Fund. The nature of the job involves mostly accounting, research and operations. I am afraid I don't have enough courses in accounting to qualify as a TN accountant as I majored in Economics. My next option would be to choose the statistician/math route but my employer is not entirely on board for that because the job is not all math.
Is it at all possible to combine the accountant and statistician or economist job categories into one so it shows I'm not necessarily a master in one domain but that my job is like a hybrid? Kind of like a Primary Category and Secondary Category. Are there other suggestions..

May 6, 2018 - 10:16pm

Went through the border with a TN application. I got the visa without any hassle. My job though matches the economist role. For all you folk in investment banking it might be tricky. Commodities trading analyst roles should be ok.

May 7, 2018 - 11:25am

It was pretty straight forward. The name of my company, what I was going to be do. If I knew how to get my I-94. It was pretty simple and quick. I had a good lawyer so that helped.

Aug 28, 2018 - 3:00pm

Just did a quick LinkedIn search and found a few kids from Canadian schools that have started full-time IB gigs this summer in NYC and SF. Some of them might possess US citizenship/Greencard but I feel TN visa issue is being blown out of proportion here.

Jun 26, 2019 - 12:48pm

Hi everyone new here, looking for analyst positions under Econ Tn visa. Any one got denial recently? Is the primary role as econ and then secondary dutie analyst works at custom? pls enlighten us if you had recent experience. good day

Jul 4, 2019 - 10:03pm

To any younger Canadians reading this:

Do yourself a massive favor and major in math or stats.

A double major would be ideal, but it would also make more sense to forego the commerce/business major and major in math/stats instead if you really want to work down south.

Considerably easier to qualify for the mathematician instead of economist status.

And they've definitely become stricter with TNs. So my next piece of advice would be to put in the time to learn as much about it so you're well prepared - both for the interview and the preparation of documentation. In the past it was unheard of to be rejected, now it is becoming a lot more common.

Oct 21, 2019 - 3:19pm

Hi Rookie,

Any updates from your border visit for TN Renewal?

I am on Economist TN Visa since 6 years now as BF Analyst and visa expiring on in May 2020.

So want to prepare accordingly and want to evaluate all my options.

Any tips?


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