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H1B Specialty Occupations

What is H1B Specialty Occupation?

An H-1B temporary worker is admitted to the United States to perform services in a “specialty occupation.” The H-1B nonimmigrant classification is a vehicle through which a qualified individual may seek admission to the United States on a temporary basis to work in his or her field of expertise. An employer must file an H-1B petition for an employee beneficiary.

What is “specialty occupation”?

To qualify as a specialty occupation, the position must meet one of the following requirements:

  • A bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position;
  • The degree requirement is common to the industry in parallel positions among similar organizations or, in the alternative, the position is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree;
  • The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Specialty occupations may include, but are not limited to, computer systems analysts and programmers, physicians, professors, engineers, and accountants.

Education requirements: 

In order to perform services in a specialty occupation, an individual must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Hold a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university;
  • Possess a foreign degree determined to be equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university;
  • Have any required license or other official permission to practice the occupation (for example, architect, surveyor, physical therapist) in the state in which employment is sought; or
  • Have education, specialized training, or progressively responsible experience (or a combination thereof) that is equivalent to completion of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher in the specialty occupation, and have recognition of expertise through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty occupation.

Period of Stay

Generally, an individual may be admitted to the United States in H-1B status for a maximum period of six years, and each H-1B petition may only be approved for a maximum period of three years. In limited circumstances, H-1B status may be extended beyond the 6-year limit.

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