Skip to main content

Can I qualify for an H-1B without a degree?

A man sitting in a cafe on his tablet

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire workers in specialty occupations. A common question is whether an applicant can still qualify for an H-1B visa if they do not have a U.S. Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. As described below, it may still be possible to qualify even without a degree.

The most common scenario for an H-1B applicant is a situation where the applicant has obtained a Bachelor’s degree in the U.S. or an equivalent degree abroad and is coming to work in a job that requires that degree. However, if you do not have a degree, it may still be possible to qualify for an H-1B visa if you have education, specialized training, and/or progressively responsible experience and recognition of expertise in the specialty occupation.

What evidence is needed if I do not have a Bachelor’s degree?

The regulations provide several options for proving you have the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree:

  • Obtain an evaluation from an official who has authority to grant college credit in your area of specialty at an accredited college or university that has a program for granting credit based on work experience.
  • Obtain an evaluation from a reliable credentials evaluation service which specializes in evaluating foreign educational credentials.
  • Show the results of a college level equivalency exam, such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), or Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction (PONSI).
  • Show certification or registration from a nationally-recognized professional association or society for the specialty. The association would need to have rigorous standards in order to grant certification or registration.
  • A determination by USCIS that your education, specialized training, and/or work experience is equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree and that you have achieved recognition of expertise in the specialty occupation as a result of such training and experience. USCIS will consider three years of work experience or training in the specialty to equal one year of a bachelor’s degree and requires that you show recognition of expertise in your specialty by showing one of the following:
  • Recognition of expertise in the specialty occupation by two or more recognized authorities in the same specialty occupation;
  • Membership in a recognized foreign or United States association or society in the specialty occupation;
  • Published material by or about you in professional publications, trade journals, books, or major newspapers;
  • Licensure or registration to practice the specialty occupation in a foreign country; or
  • Achievements which a recognized authority has determined to be significant contributions to the field of the specialty occupation.

A few possible scenarios are outlined below.

What if I have a 2 year diploma in a relevant field and four years of work experience?

If your 2 years of education are found to be equivalent to 2 years of college level work by a reliable credentials evaluation service, you would still need 6 years of experience working in the specialty to have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree.

What if I do not have any formal education in the specialty occupation?

Three years of specialized experience will generally equal one year of a Bachelor’s degree, so you need to demonstrate at least 12 years of experience in the specialty to have the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree.

What if I have a three year degree?

Three year degrees will usually not be considered equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s degree. To qualify for the H1B you would need to have a three year degree and 3 years of experience in the specialty. There may be some exceptions, such as for 3 year degrees from the UK and this should be discussed with your attorney and the credentials evaluator.

FREE H-1B / E-3 Visa Resources

Click on the buttons below in order to claim your free H-1B / E-3 Visa Guide, sign up for our free H-1B / E-3 Visa Webinar, or watch our H-1B / E-3 Visa videos.

Download Our H-1B / E-3 Visa Guide
Sign Up For Our H-1B / E-3 Visa Webinar
Watch Our H-1B / E-3 Visa Videos

Set up an H-1B / E-3 Visa Consultation

For a dedicated one-on-one H-1B / E-3 Visa consultation with one of our lawyers, click on the button below to schedule your consultation.

Schedule a consultation

This website and blog constitutes attorney advertising. Do not consider anything in this website or blog legal advice and nothing in this website constitutes an attorney-client relationship being formed. Set up a one-hour consultation with us before acting on anything you read here. Past results are no guarantee of future results and prior results do not imply or predict future results. Each case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

Leave a Reply

We are happy to offer our H-1B / E-3 visa guide that describes the H-1B / E-3 visa requirements, and other advise to assist with your visa application.
For more info visit our H-1B / E-3 visa service page or schedule a consultation so we can handle your H-1B / E-3 visa process.