Specialty occupation issues have triggered barriers to H-1B visa approval for about half of the past decade and continue to be a statutory target for restrictions on the H-1B program.  Beneficiaries, petitioners, and immigration attorneys have put countless hours of work into fighting back against these restrictions and holding USCIS accountable for illegally denying H-1B visas, and this has had a significant impact on RFE and Denial rates. 

However, H-1B petitions are still ground zero for holding these restrictions at bay to maintain a robust H-1B visa program to keep the United States economically competitive and continue to attract bright minds from around the world to US universities and the work force.  Since Specialty Occupation issues are a pinch point, it is important to understand the nuanced requirements and provide documentation that multiple options are accounted for in the initial petition.

USCIS states, “The occupation requires: Theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and Attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.”

One of four criteria must be met to prove the H-1B job is a specialty occupation:

  1. The position normally requires a bachelor’s degree or higher as the minimum educational requirement for entry into the position.  Falling back on this requirement has proven dicey for applicants because USCIS has been adjudicating “normally” as “always,” making the exception the norm.  If the job’s entry in the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook states that the position does not ALWAYS require a bachelor’s degree or higher minimum, USCIS is likely to issue an RFE instead of approving the visa.  This is why at CCI TheDegreePeople.com we recommend covering your bases and providing documentation that one of the following criteria are also met.
  2. A bachelor’s degree or higher minimum educational requirement for entry into the position is the industry standard as evidence by hiring practices for parallel positions, or this job is uniquely complex so as to require an advanced degree. 
  3. A bachelor’s degree or higher minimum educational requirement for this position is a consistent hiring practice for this employer as evidenced by proof of past hiring.
  4. Specific duties unique to this job are specialized and complex as to require an advanced degree minimum. 

Provide additional evidence and documentation to prove that at least two of these requirements are met and an expert opinion letter to lend weight to the case.  This letter must be written based on documentation the petitioner provides of industry standard and past employer hiring practices, and a detailed breakdown of the duties and responsibilities of the job highlighting how specialized skills and knowledge acquired through advanced degree attainment apply.  This expert must have extensive experience working directly in the field of the H-1B job, and have held leadership roles wherein they made hiring decisions regarding this position and supporting positions. 

At CCI TheDegreePeople.com we work with experts in every H-1B field.  Let us review your case for free before you file to prevent Specialty Occupation issues.  Visit www.ccifree.com and we will respond in 4 hours or less.

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