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Specialty Occupation Visa Lawyers

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What is a Specialty Occupation Visa?

A Specialty Occupation Visa, or “H-1B Visa”, is a type of work visa issued to certain foreign nationals who qualify.  It allows them to travel to the U.S. and work for a temporary period of time in a “specialty occupation”. 

This type of visa generally allows a stay in the U.S. for a period of up to 3 years, and may be renewable for another 3 year period in some cases.  Thus, the H-1B visa allows a maximum stay of 6 years; there may be some exemptions from the 3 or 6 year maximums.

There are some quotas associated with specialty occupation visa.  In general, up to 65,000 H-1B visas are allowed to be issued each year.  The H-1B visa holder can usually bring their spouse and children to accompany them during their temporary stay.

What is a “Specialty Occupation”?

According to immigration definitions, a “specialty occupation” is one that:

  • Requires a theoretical knowledge, and practical application of a highly specialized area of knowledge; and
  • Involves attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent)

In other words, H-1B Specialty Occupation visas are reserved for foreign nationals with a highly specific knowledge in academic or professional fields of practice.  The applicant needs to supply adequate proof and documentation of their education and work experience in the field that they will be applying under.

What are Some Examples of “Specialty Occupations”?

Some examples of specialty occupations are those within the fields of:

  • Medicine and Health
  • Education
  • Business and Accounting
  • Law
  • Theology
  • Performing arts and the arts in general
  • Math and Sciences
  • Architecture and engineering
  • Physical and Social Sciences.

What if My Occupation is Not Listed or Considered as a Specialty Occupation?

You may wish to check with immigration authorities or with a lawyer if clarification is needed regarding whether an occupation satisfies H-1B requirements.  It may be that your occupation satisfies the general requirements for the visa, but is not listed among generally recognized fields. 

In this case, immigration authorities might choose to review your application, especially if there is a strong demand for your skills, but are not being met by local U.S. workers.

Also, there are separate categories within the H-1B category.  These include persons who have been selected for certain research and development projects with the U.S. Department of Defense.  There is also a subcategory for fashion models.  In other words, it may be worth your efforts to explore the various requirements within the H-1B visa category.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Specialty Occupation Visa Requirements?

The Specialty Occupation category for visas generally requires the assistance of a qualified immigration lawyer.  If you or a loved one needs help with a visa application, you may wish to contact an experienced immigration attorney in your area.  Your lawyer can help go over the requirements with you to ensure that you qualify.  Also, the representation of a lawyer may be needed if you’re being requested for an application interview or for any other immigration hearing.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-08-2012 02:12 PM PST

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