H-1B Specialty Occupations
The H-1B program applies to employers seeking to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.
A specialty occupation is one that requires the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States.
The position must also meet one of the following criteria to qualify as a specialty occupation:
Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the particular position
The degree requirement is common to the industry in parallel positions among similar organizations or, in the alternative, the job 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
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 or higher degree.
For you to qualify to perform services in a specialty occupation you must meet one of the following criteria:
Hold a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
Hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment.
In 2020, the USCIS implemented an electronic registration process for the H-1B cap. A cap-subject H-1B petition will not be considered to be properly filed unless it is based on a valid, selected registration for the same beneficiary and the appropriate fiscal year, unless the registration requirement is suspended.
Prospective petitioners seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions, including for beneficiaries eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must first electronically register and pay the associated $10 H-1B registration fee for each prospective beneficiary. Under this process, prospective petitioners (also known as registrants), complete a registration process that requires only basic information about the prospective petitioner and each requested worker.
The USCIS will open an initial registration period for a minimum of 14 calendar days each fiscal year, usually on March 1st. The H-1B selection process will then be run on properly submitted electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions.
The H-1B Visa holder's spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in the H-4 nonimmigrant classification. Beginning May 26, 2015, certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants can file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, as long as the H-1B nonimmigrant has already started the process of seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident status, if the H-1B nonimmigrant:
Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
Has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21).
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