Case Study: The Specialty Occupation EXPERT is NOT a PROFESSOR

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Last year, USCIS responded to an unprecedented number of H-1B cap-subject petitions with RFEs regarding specialty occupation.  These RFEs were successfully answered with expert opinion letters from the RIGHT kind of expert while other expert opinion letters were rejected.

The letters that were rejected were written by professors in the field of the H1B job.  Letters that were accepted by USCIS came from experts who WORKED IN THE FIELD rather than taught it.  Letters from professors who ALSO have extensive field experience were also accepted by USCIS.  The key here is that the expert must be working in the field currently and have notable depth of experience working in the field for USCIS to accept their opinion as credible.

At TheDegreePeople, all our experts our vetted based on their field experience and rapport within the current field.  This gives weight to their opinion regarding the H-1B beneficiary’s specialty occupation and wage level.  Without this experience and respect within the field, USCIS does not consider their “expert” opinion credible with regards to current working conditions within the field.

This year, USCIS visa adjudicators have the authority and encouragement to deny H-1B visa petitions outright without first issuing an RFE.  This means you have to anticipate any specialty occupation issues that you, or your employee or client may run into BEFORE you file.  No occupation is safe from specialty occupation RFEs.  Make sure you include an expert opinion letter in your initial filing from the RIGHT kind of expert.

It is more important than ever this year that you make sure all of your bases are covered.  At TheDegreePeople we work with difficult H-1B cases and RFEs every year, and we can identify where a case is likely to run into trouble.  For a free review of your case, visit  We will respond in 48 hours or less with our observations and recommendations.


This article was written by Rebecca Little