Case Study: Specialty Occupation H1B RFE for Engineer – Overturned!

Post 12 of 423

While specialty occupation RFEs are nothing new, starting in the 2017 H1B cap season we saw a dramatic increase in such RFEs.  This coming year, there may not be many RFEs at all because USCIS adjudicators have been given license to deny petitions outright.

To qualify for H1B status a job must require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent to enter the position, and the job must entail utilizing highly specialized knowledge to perform the duties of the job.  In past years, jobs like physician or engineer were not called into question.  This past year, even jobs that were once considered clearly specialized were called into question and unsuspecting beneficiaries suddenly had to defend themselves.

One such client came to TheDegreePeople with a specialty occupation RFE for the job of engineer.  In 2017, software developers came under fire with specialty occupation RFEs.  Many employers responded the following year by redefining the job as an engineer.  This is part of the reason the job of engineer was hit with specialty occupation RFEs in 2018, but only part of the bigger picture that CIS approval trends change every year and are difficult to predict.

To address this letter, one of our experts in the field of engineering wrote a third-party expert opinion letter explaining why our client’s particular job met specialty occupation requirements both in line with the industry standard and with the employer’s hiring practices.  This letter accompanied a detailed breakdown of the duties and responsibilities of the position, documentation of industry standard through the ad for the job and ads for the same position in the industry for similar companies, and so forth, to tie it all together.  The RFE was overturned and his visa was approved.

Active now the new USCIS memorandum gives adjudicators the authority to deny H1B petitions without issuing an RFE to clear up any concerns.  This means it is essential to anticipate any issues before they arise.  At we work with RFEs, Denials, and difficult cases every year.  We know what is likely to trigger an RFE and we know how to overturn them.  Let us review your case, identify issues, and make a plan to fill in the evidentiary gaps before you file.  For a free consultation, visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.


This article was written by Rebecca Little