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H-1B Specialty Occupation Survival Guide for the FY2020 Lottery

Next week, USCIS begins accepting H-1B petitions on Monday April 1st.  We suspect that this year there will be more than enough petitions to fill the 65,000 general H-1B cap-subject visas and the additional 20,000 H-1B visas for advanced degrees, resulting in a lottery.

Getting selected in the lottery is just the first step of the process.  Last year, the rate of RFEs for H-1B petitions jumped 45% from the year before, and of the petitions that received an RFE only 60% ended up being approved.

The two most common RFE issues that blocked beneficiaries from getting their visas approved outright – and in some cases entirely – were specialty occupation and wage level.  These two issues often came tied together as USCIS made the assumption that occupations set at level one wages were entry level, and many of these assumed positions did not ALWAYS require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or higher for entry not the position.  For this reason, USCIS stated that the beneficiary either was not being paid the prevailing wage for the specialty occupation, or the job did not meet specialty occupation requirements.

This year, USCIS adjudicators have the authority to deny petitions outright without first issuing an RFE to give beneficiaries the chance to strengthen their case.  That means you have to get it right the first time. 

Here’s how:

When the petition is filed, be sure to include a detailed job description that clearly shows the complex nature of the job, including examples of duties in which theoretical or practical application of specialized knowledge must be applied.  You need to provide sufficient documentation that the job is complex in nature, and that the position requires a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent to perform. This can be done by providing the ad for the job along with ads for the same position in different companies within the industry, documentation of past employer hiring practices to show that the position always requires this educational minimum qualification, and an expert opinion letter from a professional with extensive experience WORKING IN THE FIELD of the H-1B job that explains why this position meet specialty occupation requirements, and why the wage level is appropriate.

Petitions are rejected when there is not sufficient evidence to show that the job, the employer, the beneficiary, and the contract all meet H-1B requirements.

USCIS has assured H-1B hopefuls and their sponsors that a petition will not be denied simply because the wages are set at level one.  Don’t take chances.  Make sure to give USCIS a detailed breakdown of all of the factors that went into setting the wage level backed up with an expert opinion letter.

Remember, the right expert to write the opinion letter USCIS will accept – because expert opinion letters are often rejected – is someone who has extensive experience working in the field.  A professor in the field is not sufficient; the expert must have actual working experience in the field rather than just teaching it for the opinion to have weight.  At CCI we vet our experts to make sure they have the right credentials and work experience.  We have an over 90% approval rate for specialty occupation and wage level RFEs.  The more information you can provide your expert about the H-1B job the better the letter will be and the higher chance that you, or your employee or client will have of H-1B visa approval.

For a free review of your case visit  We will get back to you in 48 hours or less and have rush delivery options for the last minute.

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