Specialty Occupations for H1B Visa

General Overview:

There is a broad spectrum as to what may be considered a specialty occupation. However, a “specialty occupation” is defined as “an occupation that requires (1) theoretical and practical application of a body and highly specialized knowledge and (2) attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.”

Specialty Occupation Requirements:

The position listed on the visa application must also meet at least one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation: (1) bachelor’s degree or higher degree or its equivalent is usually the minimum entry requirement for this position, and the degree must be related to the position listed on the visa application. (2) the degree requirement is common to the industry, or alternatively, the position is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with the beneficiary’s degree. (3) the employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position. Finally, (4) the nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher.

If the applicant does not possess a bachelor’s degree or higher, they may qualify for an H1B visa based on experience that is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. To accomplish this, the beneficiary must demonstrate evidence of recognition of his or her expertise gained through “progressively responsible positions relating to the specialty.” Evidence of the recognition could include letters from previous employers, peers and special honors recognition, or authorship of textbooks. In addition, there is a rule referred to as the “three for one rule” which substitutes three years of specialized training and/or work experience for each year of college-level education that the beneficiary lacks.

(1) Bachelor’s Degree or Higher is Normally the Minimum Entry Requirement

Here, USCIS is inquiring as to whether the employer’s proposed degree requirement is standard for positions within the same occupational domain as the offered position. This evidence can be found using authoritive data or guidelines explaining the educational requirements of the SOC category listed on the Labor Condition Application (LCA). In addition, the page for this category on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Handbook is a helpful tool when looking for educational requirement guidance.

(2)(a) Degree Requirement is Common to the Industry

To fulfill this requirement, the petitioner must provide evidence that companies in the industry seek candidates with the same educational background as the petitioner has put forward for the position listed in the application. Relevant evidence includes detailed job postings from similar employees that list duties and requirements of positions of similar type and seniority, along with evidence explaining how each of these organizations is similar to the petitioner in industry and size. Professional associations representing the specific domain of the position in question that indicates the proposed degree requirement is also an excellent resource for petitioners.

(2)(b) Position is Complex or Unique

Here, the petitioner must submit evidence that the duties of the job belonging to the specific position are either so complex or so unique that they could only possibly be successfully performed by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree in the specific academic field in the petitioner’s education requirement.

(3) Employer Normally Requires Degree or its Equivalent for the Position

The petitioner must demonstrate that when hiring for this specific position in the past, the petitioner usually has held candidates to the same educational requirement that it’s proposing as part of the current H1B application. For example, pertinent evidence such as past and present job postings for the position that includes the same educational requirement or documentation verifying the identities and educational credentials of past hires for the specific role.

(4) The Specific Duties are so Specialized and Complex that the Knowledge Required is Associated with the Attainment of a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher

To meet this requirement, petitioners should assemble a detailed outline of the position’s specific duties and make clear to anyone reading the description that someone without the proper academic training could in no way understand the tasks required to succeed in this position.

Examples of Specialty Occupations:

  • IT/ Computer Professionals
  • University professors and teachers
  • Engineers
  • Certain Healthcare workers
  • Accountants
  • Financial analysts
  • Management consultants
  • Layers
  • Architects
  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Surgeons
  • Dentists
  • Scientists
  • Systems analysts
  • Journalists and editors
  • Foreign law advisors
  • Psychologists
  • Technical publications and writers
  • Market research analysts
  • Teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges

At The Law Office of Yifei He, PLLC, our lawyer has years of experience helping clients overcome a wide range of legal barriers. We can help you present the strongest possible case to USCIS, thereby maximizing your likelihood of success. With our attorney by your side, you can navigate this process with efficiency and confidence.

Request your free initial consultation by calling 1 (917) 338-7678 or sending us an online message today.

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