H1B visa status is highly sought after by both candidates and their employers. This is because it allows highly skilled foreign employees to live and work in the United States for three years, with the option to extend to six. Because STEM industries are growing and creating jobs faster than the US workforce can fill, the H1B program is essential to bringing workers with the skills and expertise needed to keep US STEM industries competitive.
However, not every candidate qualifies for an H1B visa, regardless of what candidates and their employers want.
With filing season coming up next month, you need to know whether or not the candidate H1B qualified BEFORE you file. For a candidate to meet H1B educational requirements, they must have a specialty occupation and hold an advanced degree in the exact field of their job. Although these rules seem simple, it gets complicated really fast, especially if you or your employee or client holds a job that requires an unusual amount of responsibility and expertise than is normal for similar jobs in that industry, if the candidate’s degree is from OUTSIDE of the United States, or if the candidate has a generalized degree or a degree in a different field than their H1B job.
Not sure if you, or your employee or client meets H1B eligibility requirements? Find out with these three rules:
Simply referencing the ad or job description for the H1B job is not enough. Even if the candidate’s job requires a US bachelor’s degree or higher to perform, you need to clearly show that similar jobs in the same industry ALSO require this level of specialized expertise. You need to show that this is an industry standard. Sometimes, the job will require a unique level of skill and expertise that is not an industry standard. In these cases, you will need an expert opinion letter and evidence about this particular job and company to justify why this job is specialized while similar jobs in the industry with the same title are not.
If you, or your employee or client has a degree of this nature from a US institution, and it’s in the correct field, you’re good to go. However, if the candidate has an advanced degree from a country other than the United States, you need to take a closer look to make sure that the candidate is actually H1B qualified. Take the candidate’s transcripts and work experience to a credential evaluator who works regularly with H1B cases and their RFEs. When it comes to degrees like the Indian three-year Bachelor’s degree, the candidate will need at least three years of progressive work experience in their field of employ to account for the missing fourth year of college necessary for the US four-year bachelor’s degree equivalency. Not all work experience will meet the requirements for this conversion. You, or your employee or client may have what is needed to make the conversion, but will still need the right credential evaluation for it to work. If the credential evaluator does not ask about the visa or job, look elsewhere. The evaluator must understand the particular H1B visa requirements as well as CIS approval trends to make an accurate assessment of your, or your employee or client’s educational qualifications, and write the evaluation needed to get the H1B visa approved.
Do you, or does your employee or client hold an advanced degree with a major in their exact field of employ? If the answer is yes, then you’re most likely good to go. If the answer is no – even if the degree is from a US institution – the next step is to find out if your client has the course content and work experience needed to write the equivalency to a degree in the right field. Take the candidate’s transcripts and work experience to a credential evaluator who works regularly with H1B cases and their RFEs to determine if there are enough years of progressive work experience in the field to fill in the gaps between their degree specialization and their field. In the past, candidates with degrees in fields related to their job have had their visas approved, but in the past six or seven years this has not been the case. The degree must be an exact match to prove the candidate has the specialized skills and expertise needed for their H1B job or CIS will not approve the visa.
About the Author
Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director at TheDegreePeople.com, a Foreign Credentials Evaluation Agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://ccifree.com/ or call 800.771.4723.
This article was written by Rebecca Little