H-1B Specialty Occupation

Employment-Based Immigration

Temporary Visas


H-1B visas are for immigrants who want to work in the U.S. in either a specialty occupation, on a cooperative research and development project under the Department of Defense (DOD), or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.

H-1B visas are for immigrants who want to work in the U.S. in either a specialty occupation, on a cooperative research and development project under the Department of Defense (DOD), or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.

The H-1B visa category breaks into three smaller types depending on your job in the U.S.

H-1B Specialty Occupation

Qualifying for this visa category requires that your job meet at least one of the following criteria:

● Bachelor’s or Higher Degree or Equivalent: Your job’s minimum entry requirement must be at least a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent.
● Employers Require Degrees: Your potential employer must typically require a degree or its equivalent for the position.
● Complex Job Nature: Your job’s degree requirement must be in place because the job is complex or unique enough that only those with a degree are qualified. In other words, the degree requirement is common in the job industry.
● Specialized Knowledge: Your job’s duties are complex because you need specialized knowledge to perform them. In addition, the industry you intend to enter may associate having a bachelor’s degree or higher degree with having the job’s required knowledge.

Further Requirements

You must also meet one or more of the following criteria to be eligible to accept a specialty occupation job offer:

● U.S. Bachelor’s or Higher Degree: You must have completed a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher degree that the specific specialty occupation you are applying to requires. You must have received your degree from an accredited college or university.
● Foreign Equivalent Degree: You can accept a job offer in a specialty occupation if the foreign degree is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher degree.
● Unrestricted State License: You must hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes you to practice the specialty occupation within the state where you intend to work, if applicable.
● Specialty Experience: You must have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty occupation you intend to enter.

Progressive responsibility involves working experience in a specialty that equates to a completed degree—three years of specialized training count as one year of college-level training for a specialty occupation.

So, you may qualify for the specialty occupation visa if you have 12 years of progressively responsible experience even without a post-secondary education. However, you must still have recognition for your expertise in the specialty through positions associated with that field.

H-1B2 DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker

Qualifying for the DOD cooperative research and development project visa category requires that you meet both of the following criteria:

● Government-to-Government Agreement: The U.S. Department of Defense must have administered a government-to-government agreement to provide for the cooperative research and development project or coproduction project. In other words, you can work for the DOD research and development project if the U.S Government has sponsored it.

● Bachelor’s or Equivalent Degree: You must have a bachelor’s degree, a higher degree, or an equivalent degree to perform the DOD research and development project duties.

This H-1B visa also shares the further requirements listed above to work for a specialty occupation. You must meet one of the criteria mentioned above to be eligible for this visa category.

H-1B3 Fashion Model

You may qualify for an H-1B visa if the job you are applying for requires a prominent fashion model. However, this visa category can be exclusive since eligibility requires fashion models to be of distinguished merit and ability.

How Do I Apply for the H-1B Visa?

Your potential employer must be involved through most of the application process. Steps to obtain this visa category include:

Step 1: Employers Submit LCA to DOL

This step involves specialty occupation and distinguished fashion model petitions. Employers must submit a labor condition application (LCA) to the Department of Labor (DOL). They will apply for and receive LCA certification if they have met all requirements.

Step 2: Employers Submit Completed Form I-129 to the USCIS

Your employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with the correct U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service center. This step also only involves specialty occupation and distinguished fashion model petitions.

Step 3: Prospective Workers Outside the U.S. Apply for Visa or Admission

You can apply for an H-1B visa as a prospective worker living outside the U.S. once your potential employer has an approved Form I-129. As a future H-1B worker, you may apply with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at an embassy or consulate for your visa (if it is required).

Regardless of whether or not you need a visa, you must proceed to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This application stage involves your admission to the H-1B classification.

How Long Can I Stay as an H-1B Nonimmigrant?

Your admission lasts up to three years as an H-1B nonimmigrant. However, you can extend your time as long as you do not exceed a total of six years of stay. Some exceptions under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) may apply to your situation. Only highly skilled H-1B workers can extend beyond six years.

Should your employer terminate your services before your time as an H-1B nonimmigrant worker has lapsed, they must shoulder the expenses for your return transportation. However, they will not be responsible for your fare if you voluntarily resign from your position.

How Many People Can Get This Visa?

Only 65,000 people in a year can get an H-1B visa. Some petitions are exempted from this numerical cap:
● The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s or higher degree
● The petitions H-1B workers employed at institutions of higher education, government research organizations, or their affiliates

Next Steps

H-1B Specialty Occupation is a visa category for nonimmigrants who intend to work in the U.S. performing complex or specialized duties. This form’s application process mainly involves your potential employer. So, you may need professional immigration lawyers to ensure that your potential employer considers your best interests.

Get in touch with our attorneys at Reeves Immigration Law Group to help complete your H-1B visa application process with confidence and peace of mind.



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