If you intend to work in the U.S. in an occupation that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in the relevant field of study (e.g., mathematicians, engineers, or scientists), and you have at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, you may be eligible for a H-1B nonimmigrant visa.
With this classification, your employer has to petition on your behalf. The petitioning employer may be an entity in which you have an ownership interest.
On this page, we will discuss the key requirements you must meet to qualify as an H-1B specialty occupation worker in the United States. We have also listed the forms of evidence that you can submit to show that you meet each requirement.
Your petitioner may establish a valid employer-employee relationship if they are ready to hire, pay, fire, supervise, or otherwise control your work in the United States. The majority or sole owner of the petitioning entity may establish a valid employer-employee relationship if the facts indicate that the entity meets at least one of the above-mentioned factors.
Suppose you own the petitioning entity. In that case, you can demonstrate that a valid employer-employee relationship exists if the entity will either hire, pay, fire, supervise, or otherwise control your work.
Additionally, the H-1B petitioner must submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) and a copy of any written contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or a summary of terms of an oral agreement where a written contract does not exist.
Whether a valid employer-employee relationship exists between the H-1B petitioner and beneficiary is determined based on the content of such documentation.
To illustrate that your job qualifies as a specialty occupation, it must meet the following criteria:
The USCIS refers to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) to help determine whether a job requires a degree.
If the OOH does not indicate that a degree in a related field is necessary as a minimum requirement for your position, you will not qualify for an H-1B visa classification.
Examples of evidence that you can submit to show that the position requires a degree in a related field include, but are not limited to:
Some of the evidence you can adduce to show that your degree is related to the job position includes, but is not limited to:
If your position qualifies as a specialty occupation but you do not have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, then you may qualify by:
For any foreign degree, you must submit equivalency documents. If work experience is a question for consideration, please submit an equivalency evaluation from a college official.
If your equivalency evaluation is not from the school’s registrar, submit a statement from the institution’s registrar to establish that the evaluating official is authorized to grant college-level credit on behalf of the institution.
The H-1B visa classification has an annual cap, or limit, of 65,000 visas or initial status grants each fiscal year. However, the first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who have attained a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education are exempt from the cap.
Similarly, H-1B workers petitioned for or employed by institutions of higher education (or affiliated nonprofit entities), nonprofit research organizations, or government research entities are not subject to the numerical limit.
Cap visa numbers are often depleted very quickly. Therefore, it is critical to plan ahead if you intend to apply for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa classification subject to the annual numerical cap.
H-1B cap-subject visa petitions, including those eligible for advance degree exemptions, may not be filed unless based on a valid, selected registration for the beneficiary (unless the registration requirement is suspended).
Registration begins in early March for a start date in the following fiscal year. It is also worth noting that H-1B petitions can be filed up to six months prior to the start date.