Immigration Law Blogs on ILW.COM

by Roger Algase

Bloggings: More Myths About H-1B. By Roger Algase

This will continue my comments on March 14 about some common myths which may be preventing many qualified specialty workers from being sponsored for H-1B work visas by their employers, or from having their petitions approved after filing.

Myth Number Four: No one can be approved for H-1B without a US four year bachelor degree or equivalent foreign degree.

Fact: It is not necessary to have a bachelor degree in order to be approved for H-1B. USCIS regulations provide that an equivalent combination of education and work experience may be sufficient. 3 years of related work experience is considered equivalent to one year of college level education.

For example, someone who has completed two years of college could qualify for H-1B approval by showing six years of work experience related to the offered H-1B job. The experience has to be "progressive", i.e. showing an increased level of responsibility during the entire period of employment. Even if someone has no college education at all, but can show at least 12 years of related progressive work experience, it may be possible to qualify for H-1B approval.

The USCIS examiner will require letters from the previous employer or employers showing details about the person's work experience and progressively increasing responsibilities. Experience with the sponsoring employer, such has in F-1 practical training or J-1 status, may also be acceptable.

It is also necessary to submit letters from two "recognized authorities" in the field in question confirming that, on the basis of his or her work experience, or combination of education and work experience, the person has expertise in the field in question equivalent to the holder of a four year bachelor degree in the specialty. USCIS is usually flexible about who can be considered as a "recognized authority". 

Some H-1B candidates who are relying wholly or partly on work experience to make up for lack of a 4 year bachelor degree may chose to obtain a work experience, or combination education/work experience, evaluation from a recognized private credentials evaluation service.

However, unlike purely academic foreign credentials evaluations, which just consider the person's education, and are binding on the USCIS, an evaluation of work experience is advisory only. The USCIS examiner will make the final decision about whether to accept work experience as equivalent to any or all of the missing years of college-level education.

Myth Number Five: A combination of associate degrees, or other education short of a bachelor degree, cannot be considered as equivalent to a bachelor degree. 

Fact: Some alternative combinations of education may be considered as equivalent to a 4 year bachelor degree related to the H-1B occupation. For example, two 2-year associate degrees may in some cases be accepted as equivalent to a four year bachelor degree in or related to the specialty, even if the first associate degree was in an entirely different field.

Many USCIS examiners are willing to accept the two associate degrees as equivalent to a bachelor degree with a "dual major" in both fields covered by the associate degrees. Even if the person had two years of college education in a different field, followed by two more years of education related to the H-1B specialty field, without receiving any degree, this may be accepted as equivalent to a 4-year bachelor degree in the H-1B specialty field.

The above is based on the theory that the first two years of a typical four year bachelor degree program are usually in general studies, as opposed to the field of major. In either of the above situations, it would be important to obtain a supporting evaluation from a reliable private educational credentials evaluation service.  

I will continue to discuss more H-1B myths in upcoming posts. On a different topic, however, MSNBC has announced that Ed Schultz, an outspoken and feisty progressive commentator who is one of cable television's most consistent and vigorous supporters of immigration reform, including legal status for unauthorized immigrants, will be bounced from his prime time 8:00 pm weeknight show over to the never-never land of weekend dinnertime TV.

No doubt, Schultz has offended many people on many issues by telling the truth, including Republican hypocrisy or possible backtracking on immigration reform. His courageous prime time voice will definitely be missed. 

About The Author

Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.