Obtaining an H1B Visa Without a Degree

When determining whether a foreign employee qualifies for an H1B visa, there are two major hurdles that must be overcome.

First, H1B visas are only available to foreign workers who come to the United States temporarily to perform services in a “specialty occupation”, or as a fashion model. 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. This often means that the foreign worker has full state licensure to practice in the occupation, if such licensure is required to practice in the occupation, completion of the degree required for the position, or experience in the specialty equivalent to the completion of such degree and recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions relating to the specialty. If the foreign worker is a fashion model, the model must be of distinguished merit and ability.

Second, in order to qualify for the specialty occupation the foreign worker must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Have obtained a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree 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.

In most cases the employee sought has obtained the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher. In some cases the employee has little or no education. In such cases all is not lost. One can still qualify for an H1B visa on experience alone, or, on a combination of experience plus education. There are several credentials evaluation companies that specialize in the evaluation of experience and education that can determine if the combined experience and education of a sought after foreign worker is the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher. We have experience helping foreign employers and employees in this situation obtain H1B visas. When approached properly, the H1B visa process for foreign employees seeking to enter with equivalent education and experience is no different than the process for those possessing a U.S. bachelor’s degree. We use our experience with these unique cases to assist foreign employee’s obtain positions in specialty occupations for U.S. employers. If you are a foreign employee or a U.S. employer in a similar situation we can help.

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