Specialty Occupation Category for H-1B Visas

By Jessabelle M. Koppelman, Esq.

The U.S. labor market is growing as a record 6.4 million jobs were created last year. Securing an H1b visa is a great way to take part in this competitive and vibrant work force. The “Specialty Occupations” category is one of three H1b visa designations that a prospective worker may qualify for. Those applying for an H1b visa (sponsored by a U.S. employer) should be familiar with the requirements for Specialty Occupations.

But first, what does Specialty Occupations mean? Essentially, the occupation requires “Theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge” and “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 fields may include IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, science, business, consulting, professor, and more.

The position must meet one of the below requirements:
* The minimum requirement for the position is normally a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent;
* The degree requirement is common to the industry in similar positions among like organizations or, alternatively, the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree;
* The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or
* The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

The employee must have:
* a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university;
* a foreign degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university; or
* an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes you to practice
the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment.

If you do not have a bachelor’s degree or higher, you can still qualify for an H1b visa. Instead, you must demonstrate that you possess an education, specialized training, and/or progressively responsible experience equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher in the specialty occupation, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty. You can substitute one year of university education with three years of work experience.

Please note that if you do not have a U.S. degree, you will need to obtain a foreign equivalency certification. This is a report from an educational credential evaluator that shows the U.S. college educational equivalency of your degree. To learn more about the H1b visa process, click here and to familiarize yourself with the associated filing costs, click here.

You can now register to create an H-1b visa application account. Working with an immigration attorney can help strengthen your chances of gaining an H-1b visa approval. Our immigration lawyers are ready to help you! At Oliver-Zhang, our dedicated staff is committed to providing you with top immigration services. Please contact us today at [email protected], or call us at 202-643-1110 for a FREE immigration consultation.