Choosing an H1B Job Category

We often receive calls from foreign nationals that have received offers to work in the United States wondering if they are qualified for an H1B visa. In order to qualify for an H1B visa the employee must be filling a “specialty occupation” and be qualified for the position offered.

A “specialty occupation” is an occupation that requires a 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.

The job must meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:

  1. Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position.
  2. The degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree.
  3. The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.
  4. The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

For an employee to qualify to accept a job offer in a specialty occupation they must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university.
  2. Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation.
  3. Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment.
  4. Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.

Often the analysis ends here; the employee has at least a bachelor’s degree or it’s equivalent and the position offered requires the attainment of at least a four year degree. In other cases, the employee may not have the required degree, the position may not require the attainment of at least a four year degree, or the wage offered may not be at or above the prevailing wage as determined by the Department of Labor. In these cases it is necessary to provide an additional level of analysis, which often leads to choosing a different H1B job category. We successfully help potential employees and their employers select the proper job category for the position offered. This often necessitates a change in job duties, job title and an adjustment in pay. Other times we are able to find an alternative job category that meets the needs of employer, employee and most importantly, H1B requirements.

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