h1b specialty occupation

What Makes an H-1B Job a Specialty Occupation?

Over the past few years, H-1B cap-subject petitions have received record-breaking rates of RFEs for Specialty Occupation.  Many of these RFEs struck occupations that had never been called into question before.

USCIS visa approval trends change every year, and often the RFEs issued are virtually unanswerable by their own guidelines.  At TheDegreePeople.com we always advise our clients facing difficult RFEs to go back to the basics: what are the original H-1B requirements?  Specifically for the Specialty Occupation RFE, the central question is what makes a job a Specialty Occupation?  Answer this question and you’ve answered the issue.

USCIS determines that a job does meet specialty occupation requirements if it meets one of these four standards:

  1. This position normally requires a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher to be hired.
  2. This position in the specific industry or for this specific employer requires a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher because of the unique complexity of this position.
  3. A bachelor’s degree or higher minimum requirement for this position is a standard hiring practice for this specific employer.
  4. This specific position in question is uniquely specialized to the extent that only a candidate with a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher has the skills and knowledge necessary to performing the duties and responsibilities of the position.

The decision is based on the entry for the position in the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the opinions of experts, and on the details and documentation provided about the duties and responsibilities of the job, past hiring practices for the position, and industry standards when it comes to educational and experiential background for the position in question.

Read the Occupational Outlook Handbook for your H-1B position, or your employee or client’s H-1B position to understand which avenue is most appropriate to take for proving specialization.  Then, it’s your job to find the right expert to lend their opinion in a letter to fortify your case.  This expert works in the field of the specialty occupation, which means the expert cannot just be a professor who TEACHES the field but must have extensive field experience.  Then you must provide the expert and USCIS a detailed job description that emphasizes theoretical and practical application of specialized skills and knowledge on the job.  Provide proof of industry standard through showing USCIS ads for the same position for a different company in the industry, and provide documentation of past hiring practices.

At TheDegreePeople.com, we have experts in every specialization on hand to write the expert opinion letter you need, or your employee or client needs to get that H-1B visa approved.  They all have extensive experience and prestige in their field.  For a free review of your case, visit HERE.  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less.

The Dreaded Specialty Occupation RFE – How Does USCIS Determine Occupation Eligibility?

specialty occupation as a job that requires application of a highly specialized body of knowledge on a practical and theoretical level, and requires the worker to have earned a US bachelor’s degree or higher, or its equivalent as a minimum requirement for entry into that job in the United States. It’s important to note here that the job itself needs to require this educational minimum, it is not enough for the beneficiary to have earned a bachelors degree if it’s not needed to gain entry to the field.This definition serves as the basis for what CIS will consider a job that qualifies for H1B status. However, this definition is too simplistic to apply to the nature of specialized occupations in the real world. Jobs do not exist in a vacuum, and different states have different educational requirements for entry into many specialized occupations. Some require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum, and others don’t for the same job, just across state lines.There are two standards that allow for some level of subjectivity within the industry, and at the discretion of the employer that factor into CIS’ determination. The first is the industry standard criteria, added in 1990. What this standard means for H1B occupations is that the position in question must typically require the attainment of a US bachelors degree or higher as a minimum requirement, and that in similar organizations, this same baseline qualification is standard for this position.The second is the employer-standard, which becomes useful when the job in question doesn’t meet the industry standard because of circumstances unique to the position and company in question. To meet CIS specialization requirements by this standard, the employer must typically require a US bachelors degree or higher for the position in question, and that the nature and duties of this position are uniquely specialized so as to require this advanced degree.If your client or employee is in one such job, you need to go a step further in the petition to show that state regulations for this occupation meet H1B specialization requirements. Likewise, if your employee or client has a job that does require an advanced degree, but does not obviously require an advanced degree, detailed evidence and documentation is needed to prove specialization to CIS.At TheDegreePeople, we work with RFEs and difficult cases every year. We know what jobs and degrees trigger RFEs, and we know how to prevent them. Visit ccifree.com for a no-charge and no-obligation review of your client or employee’s case.]]>

Scroll to Top