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Does My Degree Have to be in the Same Field as the H-1B Job?

By March 16, 2021May 20th, 2021H-1B and E-3 Visa, Immigration
University graduates holding degree

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits a company to hire workers in specialty occupations.  This visa category requires that the beneficiary (the foreign worker) have a bachelor’s degree, and the petitioner (the U.S. company) can employ the worker for up to six years.

Example

You have a Bachelor’s & Master’s degree in Engineering. After you finished University, you never worked as an Engineer and instead you started working in the Marketing/PR industry. You now found a U.S. Company that is offering you a job as a Marketing Manager. Can you qualify for the job through your degree since you have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree?

No, not in this scenario as your degree and the job that is being offered to you are in completely different fields. To qualify for the H-1B visa through your degree in the first place, you will need to show that you meet one of the following requirements:

  • You have completed a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree required by the specific specialty occupation from an accredited college or university; or
  • You hold a foreign degree that is the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in the specialty occupation;

As you can see in the language above, when filing the H-1B petition, the petitioner will have to demonstrate that a degree is required by the specific occupation. In the example above, it would be hard to explain why a degree in Engineering is required for Marketing position.

On the other hand, if you had a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Engineering and you are applying for a job as an Engineer, then the petitioner would still have to demonstrate (but it would be much easier) why the engineering degree is required for an Engineering job.

If you have a degree in one field but you want to come work in the U.S. in a different field, than another option to demonstrate that you qualify would be through one of the following:

  • You have progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty
  • You hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification which authorizes you to fully practice the specialty occupation and be engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment.

Please see our Q&A Blog post on H-1B registration when you click here.

Please see our Q&A Blog post on H-1B visa when you click here.

Please click here to read more about the H-1B lottery system.

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