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What kinds of jobs qualify for an H-1B specialty occupation visa?

The H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the holder to work in the United States for three to six years. The visa is available for degreed workers in specialty occupations, certain Defense Department R&D workers and fashion models of distinguished ability.

In this blog post, we are discussing the H-1B visa for workers in specialty occupations. In order to qualify, the applicant must meet at least one of these criteria:

  • Holds a U.S. bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited educational institution which is required by the specialty occupation
  • Holds an equivalent foreign degree
  • Has all required licenses and permissions to practice the specialty occupation in the proposed state
  • Has a combination of education, experience or specialized training equivalent to such a degree, along with recognition of your expertise in the specialty occupation

In addition, the job you're applying for must qualify as a specialty occupation. This means that a bachelor's or higher degree is ordinarily the minimum entry requirement; the degree requirement is common across the industry; this specific employer normally requires the degree for this position; the particular position can only be performed by a person with the degree; or the nature of the work is so specialized and complex that performing it is usually associated with having the degree.

To get the visa, you must also have a specific job offer for a position in a specialty occupation, and your sponsoring employer must submit a Foreign Labor Certification and a Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker before you apply. Only 65,000 H-1B visas are issued each year.

Examples of specialty occupations qualifying for H-1B visas

Each H-1B specialty occupation visa application is considered individually. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not guarantee any specific job will qualify as an H-1B specialty occupation.

In its 2017 annual report on H-1B visas, however, the USCIS listed out the top occupational categories of those who received H-1B visas that year. By far, the most common occupational category for H-1B visas was "computer-related occupations." This category includes occupations like:

  • Computer programming
  • Software development
  • Computer systems analysis
  • Computer network architects
  • Database and systems administration
  • Quality assurance testing and analysis
  • Digital interface design

Examples of other common occupational categories include:

  • Architecture, engineering and surveying
  • Specialty administration
  • Education and research
  • Medicine and health
  • Mathematics and the physical sciences

If the job you are interested in isn't on this list, be aware that many other jobs have been approved as H-1B specialty occupations. Contact Yew Immigration Law Group for experienced help with this or any immigration issue.

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