USCIS Clarifies Occupations Eligible For H-1B Visas

USCIS recently updated its website regarding the general requirements for H-1B eligibility. Among other requirements, the USCIS defines a specialty occupation as one that requires a:

  •  “Bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for the particular position,” or 
  • “The degree requirement is common to the industry in parallel positions among similar organizations or, in the alternative, the job is so complex or unique that it can be performed only by an individual with a degree,” or
  • “The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position,” or
  • “so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree.” 

The USCIS website added a footnote citing a federal regulation with the clarifying language: “‘Normally,’ ‘common,’ and ‘usually’ are interpreted based on their plain language, dictionary definitions. They are not interpreted to mean ‘always.'”

Erickson Insights

USCIS’s clarification rejects the Trump-era interpretation of H-1B eligibility that resulted in increased denials. The meaning of the words “normally,” “common,” and “usually” became flashpoints in lawsuits over H-1B denials and the Trump administration’s guidance to adjudicators. The Biden administration’s interpretation clarifies how USCIS will interpret H-1B eligibility in the future.

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to monitor developments and share updates as more news is available. Please contact your employer or EIG attorney if you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions.