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H-1B Visa -- How Do I Get One Through My Employment

How do I get an H-1B visa?

The fist step in obtaining an H-1B visa is to have an employer who is offering you employment in a position that normally requires at least a Bachelor’s degree in the United States, and who is willing to sponsor you.

The USCIS normally consults the US Department of Labor’s “Occupational Outlook Handbook” to determine if a position normally requires a Bachelor’s degree in the United States. If that handbook does not state that most positions in the occupation require at least a Bachelor’s degree, it will be very hard to convince USCIS that the position qualifies for an H-1B visa, regardless of what degree you have.

Once USCIS finds that the position does indeed qualify for an H-1B visa, it will look at your education and experience to see if you qualify. In order for you to qualify for an H-1B visa, you need to have the degree that is normally required for the occupation, or its equivalent. USCIS is willing to consider three years of progressively responsible positions in the occupation, for each year short of the required degree that you may lack.

Finally, USCIS will look to see if the position can be performed without a license, and if it cannot, it will require that you have the required license, or the ability to become licensed once the petition is approved.

Example 1:

Joan is being hired by Accountants R Us for a position as an Accountant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

USCIS finds that the “Occupational Outlook Handbook” states that “Most jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.” It therefore determines that the position qualifies for an H-1B visa.

USCIS finds that Joan’s degree is equivalent to a US Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. It therefore determines that Joan meets the educational requirements for an H-1B visa.

USCIS also determines that a license is not required to perform the duties of an accountant.

Because all three requirements are met, USCIS approves the case.

Example 2:

Jerry is being hired by We Build Them Engineers for a position as a Civil Engineer. He has a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering. Jerry is not licensed as a Civil Engineer in the United States.

USCIS finds that the “Occupational Outlook Handbook” states that “A bachelor’s degree is required for most entry-level jobs” for engineers. It therefore determines that the position qualifies for an H-1B visa.

USCIS finds that Jerry’s degree is equivalent to a US Master’s degree in Civil Engineering. It therefore determines that Jerry meets the educational requirements for an H-1B visa.

USCIS also determines that a license is required to perform the duties of a Civil Engineer, unless the work is performed under the direct supervision of a licensed engineer. USCIS therefore determines that Jerry must either have the required Civil Engineer license, must be able to obtain that license as soon as the petition is approved, or must be supervised by a licensed Civil Engineer.

Fortunately for Jerry, We Build Them Engineers is a civil engineering firm, and has licensed Civil Engineers who will supervise Jerry’s work. We Build Them Engineers submits a copy of the license of the Engineer who will be Jerry’s principal supervisor to USCIS.

Because all three requirements are met, USCIS approves the case.

Example 3:

Bernadette is being hired by Caring Nurses for a position as a Registered Nurse. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Bernadette meets all of the requirements for licensing in the state where Caring Nurses is located.

USCIS finds that Bernadette’s degree is equivalent to a US Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. It therefore determines that Bernadette meets the educational requirements for an H-1B visa.

However, USCIS also determines that the “Occupational Outlook Handbook” states that “The three major educational paths to registered nursing are a bachelor’s degree, ana ssociate degree, and a diploma.” It therefore determines that the position does not qualify for an H-1B visa, because one can become a nurse without a Bachelor’s degree.

USCIS therefore denies the case because the position does not qualify for an H-1B visa.

Example 4:

Bernadette’s friend Naomi is being hired by Good Hospital in Illinois as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Naomi has a Master’s degree in Nursing and meets all of the requirements for licensing and certification in Illinois.

USCIS determines that the “Occupational Outlook Handbook” states that “A bachelor’s degree often is necessary for administrative positions and is a prerequisite for admission to graduate nursing programs in research, consulting, teaching, or aclinical specialization.” Because Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist appears to be a specialization, USCIS requests documentation of the educational requirements for the position.

Good Hospital submits documentation that the State of Illinois requires that Nurse Anesthetists “have a graduate degree appropriate for national certification in a clinical advanced practice nursing specialty.” USCIS therefore determines that the position does qualify for an H-1B visa.

USCIS then determines that Naomi’s Master’s degree is equivalent to a US Master’s degree in Nursing and that it is a graduate degree. It therefore determines that Naomi qualifies for an H-1Bvisa.

Because Naomi meets all the qualifications for licensing and can obtain the required license as soon as she obtains a Social Security Number, and because all other requirements have been met,USCIS approves the case.

Example 5:

Roger is being hired by Smart Kids Elementary School as an Elementary School Teacher. Roger does not have a degree, but has twenty years of pre–school, kindergarten, and elementary school teaching experience.

USCIS determines that the “Occupational Outlook Handbook” states that “teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree.” It therefore determines that the position qualifies for an H-1B visa.

Because Roger does not have a Bachelor’s degree, USCIS then reviews all of letters that Roger submitted documenting his 20-years experience. USCIS determines that Roger has 20 years of “progressively responsible experience” in the occupation. It determines that Roger has no college level studies, and therefore is short four years of college level education. Because USCIS has determined that three years of experience are equivalent to one year of college level education, it determines that Roger’s experience is enough to be equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in Education.

Because Smart Kids Elementary School is a private school, USCIS determines that Roger is not required to be licensed or have a teaching credential.

Because USCIS found that the normal requirement for an elementary school teacher is a Bachelor’s degree, that Roger’sexperience is equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in Education, and that Roger does not need to be licensed or credentialed to teach, USCIS approves the case.