Obtaining Approval of Obscure Specialty Occupations under H-1B

USCIS is critical of some H-1B specialty occupations so the H-1B lawyer must be detailed in crafting the job description and submit extensive documentation to have a chance at success

Many U.S. employers utilize the H-1B visa program as the primary method of hiring professional level foreign employees. An H-1B visa allows foreign workers to work in the U.S. in a specialty occupation for a total of six years. A specialty occupation is one that normally requires a college degree. There is no requirement that the employer demonstrates a need for foreign labor due to a shortage of qualified U.S. workers. This is what differentiates the H-1B program from other immigrant cases. The employer simply needs to show that the position offered is in a “specialty occupation.” However, matching the job title with the relevant academic credentials can be tricky and poses traps for the unwary.

For example, generally, a computer programmer will qualify as a specialty occupation so long as the employee possesses at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. However, a credit analyst can qualify with minimal education (no degree) plus work experience. Whether USCIS requires a four-year degree, master’s degree or qualifying work experience may not seem uniform and can lead employers to question whether starting the H-1B process is worthwhile.

In Columbus, Ohio farming is a part of life. The modernization of farming has created the need for highly qualified individuals to run the day-to-day aspects of the farm. Many of these individuals have gained their experience not in school, but through years of experience. USCIS has been highly skeptical of farm manager positions even though they are clearly specialty occupations in that only those individuals who have attained a college degree (or its equivalent) could be considered for the job. In reality, USCIS will generally not approve an H-1B petition for a farm manager unless the worker has a college degree. This is sad fact of life especially for a foreign worker who has been a farm manager on a modern farm overseas for their entire life.

Furthermore, Columbus, Ohio is weathering the great recession in part because of its many thriving tech businesses. These businesses require qualified managers to run the business and implement policy just like the Ohio farm. However, USCIS treats Business Manager and Marketing Analysts much different than Dairy Farm Managers. H-1B petitions have been approved for Business Managers who have no college degree but who possess lengthy experience in the field. Marketing Analysts are the same.

As a general rule, if the occupation is little known, or is relatively new, expect to submit extensive documentation to convince USCIS of the true need for an H-1B worker. The H-1B petition must carefully define and describe the duties and responsibilities of the job. Our law firm has served the needs of countless organizations in processing H-1B visas. Contact one of our experienced lawyers at (800) 625-3404.

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