H-1B Visa for Specialty Occupation

The H-1B program allows companies and other employers in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation (H-1B), services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project (H-1B2), or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability (H-1B3).


To establish that a job qualifies as a specialty occupation for H-1B, H-1B2, or H-1B3 under USCIS regulations, one or more of the following criteria must be met:

  • A bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is the regular minimum entry requirement for the position
  • The required degree must be related to the position
  • The degree requirement is common to the industry, or in the alternative, the position is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree; or
  • The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with attaining a bachelor’s or higher degree.

For you to qualify to perform services as a Specialty worker (H-1B) or DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker (H-1B2), you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Hold a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specialty occupation from an accredited college or university
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification that authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment
  • Have education, specialized training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty equivalent to completing a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to it.

To be eligible for H-1B3:

  • The position/services must require a fashion model of prominence.
  • You must be a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability.

Petition Filing Process

Step 1: (only required for specialty occupation and fashion model petitions): Employer/Agent Submits a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor for Certification.

  • LCAs must not be submitted more than 6 months before the beginning date of the period of employment.

Step 2: Employer/Agent Submits Completed Form I-129.

  • Include the DOL-certified LCA (only for specialty occupations and fashion models).

Step 3: Approval. Prospective Workers Outside the United States Can Apply for Visa or Admission.

  • Once the Form I-129 petition is approved, if the prospective H-1B worker is outside the United States, he or she may apply with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for an H-1B visa.
  • Regardless of whether a visa is required, the prospective H-1B worker must apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for admission to the United States in the H-1B classification.

Please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Attorney Sarah Mu, she can successfully help you navigate the complex H-1B process.