by Chris Musillo

There is a mystery afoot at the northern border. Last week reputable news organizations, such as the CBC, reported that advance practice nurses were being told that they no longer qualified for the TN-1 visa at the Canadian-Michigan border.

The TN-1 visa is a visa authorized under NAFTA. All of the jobs on the NAFTA occupations list are eligible for TN-1 visas. The NAFTA list is purposely vague. It does not list job descriptions for the occupations. Any rational job description includes advance practice nurses under the registered nurse domain. For instance, the State of Michigan law on registered nursing, includes advance practice nurses as a subset of registered nurse. Advance Practice nurses have been using the TN-1 for 20+ years.

US Customs and Border Protection has been silent on the issue. Immigration attorneys are unsure if the denials are based on one rouge officer’s mistaken understanding of law, or if it is a policy-wide decision.

Either answer is problematic. If it is a rogue officer, then the US CBP ought to acknowledge their error, re-train the officer, and announce that advance practice nurses are eligible for the TN-1.

If not, the administration ought to explain the rationale behind its policy-decision. The administration’s own Department of Labor says that for US workers, ”job opportunities for advanced practice registered nurses are likely to be excellent.” Protectionism may be a valid policy argument in some areas, but plainly not for advance practice nurses, who are the forefront of treating American patients.

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