What Jobs Are Considered "Highly Skilled" For an H-1B?

To qualify for H-1B status, you must have a job offer from a U.S.employer, in a "specialty occupation." But what is a specialty occupation?

The H-1B visa is a very popular temporary-employment visa. It allows foreign workers to come to the U.S.and work for a specified employer in a specific employment position for a temporary period. It may also serve as a path to getting a green card.

To qualify for H-1B status, you must have a job offer from a U.S.employer. The job must be in a “specialty occupation.” But what is a specialty occupation?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will decide whether your proposed job is a specialty occupation. In making this determination, USCIS will look to whether:

  • a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the position
  • the degree requirement for the job is common to the industry or the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by a person with a degree
  • the employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position, and
  • 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 certain positions, it is easy to predict that USCIS will view the position as a specialty occupation – such as physician positions, which plainly require at least a bachelor’s degree. However, USCIS's decision on many types of jobs could go either way. This article will list the more common H-1B positions, as well as some positions that are notconsidered specialty occupations and therefore do not qualify for H-1B status.

Positions That Commonly Qualify Applicants for an H-1B Visa

The following is a non-exhaustive list of H-1B positions. This list is mainly compiled from Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) cases where the immigration officials found that the position qualified as a specialty occupation, making the foreign worker qualified for H-1B status.  Please note that if your occupation is not on this list, that does not mean that you do not qualify for an H-1B visa. Your occupation may qualify, but to be sure it is best to consult an experienced immigration attorney.

Accepted H-1B Positions:

  1. attorney
  2. accountant
  3. market Research Analyst
  4. journalist
  5. chiropractor
  6. social Worker
  7. public school Primary/Secondary teachers
  8. librarian
  9. pharmacist
  10. doctor/physician. (Please note that most medical specialties such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists, pediatricians, and so forth qualify for H-1B visas as well. However, medical practitioners are subject to special license requirements in order to practice medicine in the United States.)

Bear in mind that USCIS looks at the position’s duties to determine whether it is a specialty occupation -- not the position’s title. Therefore, if your duties are similar to the duties of a position on this list -- but your job title is different -- you may still qualify for an H-1B visa.

Positions Unlikely to Qualify Applicants for an H-1B Visa

USCIS, the AAO, or the BIA have found that the following positions were not specialty occupations and did not qualify the foreign worker for H-1B status. However, the determination of whether a position qualifies as a specialty occupation can be very fact-specific, dependent on the specific job duties and other factors. As stated above, the job title alone is not going to make the difference in USCIS's decision. Therefore, this list should be taken as simple guidance; and should not be considered the final word on this matter.

  1. nurse (also note that nurses are able to work in the U.S. using other types of visas, and some specialized nurses doqualify for an H-1B visa.
  2. salesperson
  3. human resource specialist
  4. media planner
  5. Montessori school teacher
  6. bookkeeper
  7. marketing manager.

More Information

To learn more about the rules for getting an H-1B visa, see our articles, Improving Your Chances of Getting an H-1B Visa and Who Qualifies for an H-1B Visa?

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