One of the most important aspects of qualifying for an H-1B visa is making sure that the position and foreign national have met the required educational requirements.
What does this mean exactly?
In very simple terms, it means two things:
- The position requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, or equivalent, in a specific field or related fields of study; AND
- The foreign national applying for the H-1B has a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, or equivalent, in that specific field or a related field.
US Bachelor Degree
This isn’t too complicated…if you have a US bachelor degree, you’re generally on the right track. The only time this can be problematic is if your US bachelor degree is from an unaccredited institution.
There are schools in the US who grant “Bachelor” degrees that are actually not accredited. If the school is not accredited, then USCIS will not accept the schooling as being a bachelor degree, or equivalent, despite what the diploma states.
Foreign Bachelor Degree
Foreign bachelor degrees are fine for H-1Bs as long as they are deemed equivalent to a US bachelor degree. Many foreign bachelor degrees are deemed equivalent to a US bachelor degree.
However, there are some 3-year foreign bachelor degree programs that are not deemed equivalent. If the foreign national has a foreign bachelor degree, then he/she should have their degree evaluated by an evaluation company or they should review the Electronic Database For Global Education (EDGE) prior to applying to ensure that their degree is equivalent to a US bachelor degree.
A higher degree works just as well as a bachelor degree.
For example, if the position is for a software engineer and the requirement is a bachelor degree or equivalent in computer science, IT, computer engineering, or related, and the foreign national has a bachelor degree in English and a masters in computer science, then the educational requirement is fulfilled by the masters degree.
Equivalent to a Bachelor Degree
If the individual has less than a 4 year bachelor degree then they may not meet the educational requirement based solely on their education.
In such a situation the individual would have to obtain an evaluation that would combine their education and work experience. In the eyes of USCIS, 3 years of work experience equates to 1 year of bachelor degree level studies. Therefore, if an individual only had a 2 year degree, they would need at least 6 years of relevant work experience in order to even potentially qualify as having the equivalent of a 4-year US bachelor degree.
Another notable point in this regard is that it is possible for someone with no higher education to qualify for an H-1B if they have 12 years or more of relevant work experience and that experience has been evaluated to be equivalent to a US bachelor degree.
For more information on the H-1B Visa, contact Lightman Law Firm at (212) 643-0985 or submit a consultation request online. Also visit our H-1B Visa section for more details.