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What does USCIS mean when they say that a job must be in a specialty occupation for an H1b visa?

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One of the first things that you should know about H1b visas is that not all jobs qualify for H1b employment visas.  
 
In order for an H1b to be available, the job must be a specialty occupation.

What is a specialty occupation?

Specialty occupations require a theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge.   This typically involves a showing that the position requires a bachelor’s degree or higher, that such a degree is common in the industry, that the employer normally requires such a degree, and that the job duties are so specialized that the requirements of the job are usually associated with that degree.  The employee’s background and qualifications must also track the job duties in the offered position.

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The foreign worker must either:

  • (1) hold a U.S. bachelor's or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited institution;
  • (2) possess a foreign degree determined to be an equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's;
  • (3) have any required license to practice the occupation (like an architect, surveyor or physical therapist); or,
  • (4) have education, specialized training, or progressively responsible experience that is equivalent to completion of a U.S. bachelor's degree and have recognition of progressively responsible expertise through job promotions within that field.

The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service sometimes requests additional evidence that the position sought qualifies for the specialty occupation classification.  These requests for evidence can be long, burdensome and very specific.

The best way to minimize the chances of a request for evidence on the specialty occupation issue is to provide documentation with the initial filing that the job is properly considered a specialty one.  This can involve affidavits, surveys, letters from similar employers and other evidence from industry hiring customs.

If you are wondering if your occupation qualifies as a specialty occupation, feel free to email us at [email protected] or call us at (314) 961-8200 and we'd be happy to set up a time to discuss. 

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