Immigration Law Associates
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H-1B: the workerís qualifications

In order to be eligible for an H-1B visa, a person must have the specialized degree specified in the employerís position description. That degree must be in a field closely related to the specialty occupation.

It is important to note that an H-1B workerís degree(s) be equivalent to a U.S. Bachelorís degree based on the judgment of an independent evaluator. Typically, a foreign Bachelorís degree completed in 3 years is not considered to be equivalent to a U.S. Bachelorís degree. Similarly, a 3-year foreign Bachelorís degree and Masterís degree together are not equivalent to a U.S. Masterís degree, although it will normally be considered the equivalent of at least a U.S. Bachelorís degree. To obtain a degree equivalence evaluation for an H-1B petition, the workerís translated higher education transcripts must be sent to an evaluator who provides assessments for immigration purposes.

In some cases, if the USCIS is convinced that a position meets the criteria for a specialty occupation, the intended H-1B may demonstrate that he or she is qualified for the position based on a combination of education and experience, or in some cases experience alone. Equivalence of work experience can be established by an official who has authority to grant college level credit, a recognized college level equivalency exam, or certification by a nationally recognized professional organization.

It is important to note that USCIS applies applicable work experience to the Bachelorís degree requirement at a ratio of 3 years of experience per year of higher education. If the state of employment requires a license to practice the profession, the worker must have that license in order to be approved for H-1B status. For equivalence to a U.S. Masterís degree based on a U.S.-equivalent Bachelorís degree plus work experience, the prospective H-1B must have the Bachelorís degree plus 5 years of progressively responsible work history within the specialty occupation.


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