Are you a foreign citizen working as a doctor, lawyer, architect, computer programmer or research scientist? Are you a professional with a specialty occupation (as mentioned above) who wants to work in the U.S.?
If you have at least a baccalaureate/bachelor’s degree and your profession requires highly specialized skills, this visa may be the right one for you! An H-1B visa is available to individual professionals who are looking to work in the U.S. for a particular employer. Every year, up to 65,000 new H-1B visas are issued, with an additional 20,000 being available to those individuals who received a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education.
The most important requirement for obtaining an H-1B visa is to ensure that the job qualifies as a “specialty occupation.” Specialty occupations are those that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, calling for completion of a specific course of higher education. Some examples of specialty occupations are computer professionals, architects, medical doctors (who have passed their USMLE exams), civil engineers, lawyers, researchers, and marketing professionals. These occupations usually require the minimum attainment of a baccalaureate/bachelor’s degree from the United States or its foreign equivalent.
HOW DOES A JOB QUALIFY AS A “SPECIALTY OCCUPATION?”
To qualify as a specialty occupation, the position must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- The minimum entry requirement for the position requires a bachelor’s degree (or higher degree), or its U.S. equivalent. In other words, the foreign national’s degree should be equivalent to at least a bachelor’s degree from the U.S.;
- It is common for that particular job industry to have a minimum degree requirement, or the job is so complex or unique that it can only be done by someone with at least a bachelor’s degree;
- Requiring a degree or its equivalent is a common demand of the particular employer;
- 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 degree (or a higher degree).
WHAT HAPPENS IF A PERSON DOES NOT HAVE A BACHELOR’S DEGREE?
Even if a person does not have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, he or she can still qualify for an H-1B visa. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, three years of work experience in the field is equivalent to one year of education. For example, if a person did not complete their bachelor’s degree in their home country, but has been working as an architect, then three years of experience as an engineer can be used to satisfy one year of this individual’s education. Therefore, an applicant without a bachelor’s degree can still qualify for an H-1B visa if they have three years of work experience.
HOW DOES SOMEONE KNOW IF THEY POSSESS THE PROPER EDUCATIONAL EQUIVALENT OF A BACHELOR’S DEGREE?
For a person to know whether he or she has the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree from the U.S., the applicant must obtain a credential evaluation, available from an educational evaluation company (one that is established in the U.S.).