One of the pitfalls of the TN visa is the miss understanding that certain examiners have regarding what are the activities of an accountant. We’ve seen a tendency from USCIS to consider accountants as those that are Certified Public Accountants. They are failing to consider that an accountant has a broad job definition. When applying for a TN as a staff accountant or Internal accountant one needs to be aware that some examiners believe that anything less than performing audits or preparing tax documents are not activities of a “Professional” nature. When preparing an application as an accountant one needs to be aware of what the true definition of an accountant is.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), which is the side manual of many USCIS examiners, states the following activities for accountants:
- Examine financial statements to ensure that they are accurate and comply with laws and regulations.
- Compute taxes owed, prepare tax returns, and ensure that taxes are paid properly and on time.
- Inspect account books and accounting systems for efficiency and use of accepted accounting procedures.
- Organize and maintain financial records.
- Assess financial operations and make best-practices recommendations to management.
- Suggest ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits.
The OOH also mentions that there are different types of accountants. for example Public Accountant, Management accounting, Governmental Accounting, Internal Auditors, External Auditors, Information Technology Auditors. All of these accounting fields have their own different job duties and each one different types of accounting process.
Although USCIS uses the OOH as their main authority to review job descriptions, one should also present other authorities such as trade associations or even requirements for similar positions in similar companies. This is particularly important because USCIS will deny cases where their main argument is that the staff accountant did not submit any documents with any Tax authorities. The way to avoid this is cross-referencing a staff accountant duties to these enumerated in trade journals or trade association publications.
In preparing an application one needs to emphasis that all the activities of a staff accountant are professional in nature. A detailed explanation of the activities that a staff accountant does needs to be presented. This way one can avoid the pitfalls of receiving a denial from USCIS.