Job Description and the Degree Requirement: Is Your Candidate H-1B Qualified?

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Whether you’re looking into hiring on a new employee under H-1B status, or taking on a current L-1 or TN employee as an H-1B employee for this next fiscal year, it’s time to get going. USCIS begins accepting petitions for this much sought after visa on April 1st. If the past several years are any indication of what is to come, you will only have a five-day window to get your client or employee’s petition in the H-1B lottery.

Before you even get started, there are two very important questions about whether or not the job and the employee are H-1B qualified you and your client or employee should be asking:

  1. Is the job itself a specialty occupation?
  2. Is my employee or client educationally qualified for this specialty occupation?

To qualify for H-1B visa status, the job must require a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent or higher to show that the position requires the employee to possess specialized skills and knowledge to carry out successfully. Mid-sized companies in particular are asked to justify why someone with a bachelor’s degree or higher is required for the job, and you need to show this through evidence and documentation. For example, the ad for the job can be used as proof if it indicates that as a minimum qualification the employee must have a bachelor’s degree or higher. You can also show that similar jobs for similar companies also have these specialized requirements. However, if the job requires a generalized degree – even if it is a bachelor’s degree – you may run into problems because a generalized degree does not indicate that specialized knowledge and skills are required. This is where alternative forms of evidence, like expert opinion letters and examples of similar jobs for similar companies come in particular handy. It is on you to prove that you require a highly skilled employee with a specialized knowledge base to successfully carry out the duties of an H-1B job.

Say you’ve established that your company absolutely needs an employee with a bachelor’s degree or higher and a specialized knowledge base and skill set to carry out the duties of this H-1B position. NOW you need to show that your H-1B candidate is that employee with the required education and specialized knowledge base and skill set. How do you do this? If your candidate has a bachelor’s degree or higher from a US college or university with a major that is an exact fit for their field of employ, it is straightforward. If your candidate has a degree from a different country or with a major in a different field – even if it’s in a related field – from their field of employ, you will need to take one more step to meet this H-1B requirement.

CIS does not accept a three-year degree as the equivalent of a US four-year degree at face value. However, when evaluated for academic course content, an evaluation agency with the authority to convert classroom contact hours into college credit can use this technique to take a close look at your client or employee’s degree and bridge the missing year. An evaluator with the authority to convert years of work experience into college credit can follow the 3-1 rule and convert three years of progressive work experience in the field into one year of college credit. Both of these careful evaluation methods can also be utilized to show specialization in the candidate’s field of employ if they have worked in the field or taken enough classes throughout their college career in that field.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to get started on your employee or client’s H-1B petition. This is US immigration, which means it’s a bundle of details and documentation that often takes time and energy to get in order. If your client or employee needs a credential evaluation to show that they meet CIS educational requirements, start looking for the right credential evaluation agency to meet your needs. The right agency should be able to right an evaluation as unique as your client’s education, and they should have a firm understanding of CIS trends and the different academic requirements for different visas.

About the Author

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI, TheDegreePeople.com, a foreign credentials evaluation agency. For a no charge analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to http://www.ccifree.com or call 800.771.4723.

 

This article was written by Rebecca Little

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