H-1B visas are business visas designed for nonimmigrant workers in specialty occupations with highly specialized knowledge.

There are various types of specialty occupations for which a nonimmigrant worker may be eligible to obtain an H-1B visa. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) explains that the H-1B program is one that “applies to employers seeking to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.” According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the H-1B visa can also apply to nonimmigrants who will be providing “services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project.”

The eligibility requirements for each of these classifications are complex, and it is vital to have an experienced Nashville immigration attorney assist you with the visa process. In the meantime, the following information can help to clarify some of those specific eligibility requirements.

What is a Specialty Occupation?

The most common classification for an H-1B visa is a person with a “specialty occupation.” There are three different categories of eligibility requirements, and it is important to be familiar with the requirements that must be met under all three categories.

First, in order to have a specialty occupation that is eligible for an H-1B visa, both of the following must be true:

  • Occupation requires “theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge”; and
  • Occupation requires “attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.”

Second, in addition to one of the above, a person with a specialty occupation that is eligible for an H-1B visa also must also meet one of the following requirements concerning a degree or its equivalent:

  • Normal minimum entry requirement for the position is a bachelor’s degree or higher;
  • Degree requirement is common in the industry, or the job is either “so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree”;
  • Employer sponsoring the visa normally would require a degree (or its equivalent) to employ a person in the position; or
  • Job duties are “so specialized and complex” that a worker would only have the knowledge to perform those duties after earning a bachelor’s degree or a higher degree.

Third and finally, in order to qualify to do the work of the specialty occupation, one of the following must be true of the worker:

  • Holds a U.S. bachelor’s degree that is required for the job and that was conferred by an accredited college or university;
  • Holds a foreign degree that is either the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a higher degree that is required for the job and that was conferred by an accredited college or university; or
  • Holds a relevant license, registration, or certification that authorizes the worker to perform the job duties required for the specialty occupation.

Contact Our Nashville Immigration Attorneys

If you need assistance with an H-1B visa for a specialty occupation, a DOD researcher, or a fashion model, it is important to seek advice from one of our experienced Nashville immigration lawyers. Contact Ozment Law, PLC, to learn more today.

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