The primary purpose of a specialty occupation letter is to determine whether a particular position qualifies as a specialty occupation for an H-1B petition. Such letters provide a detailed explanation of the educational background necessary to perform a position’s specialized duties. Experts in the field analyze the nature of the company and its industry, the position in the context of the company, and the background required for the position as determined by the industry. Taking into consideration the job duties required of the candidate, a specialty occupation letter clearly demonstrates that the proffered position is a specialty occupation requiring expertise in a particular field. Depending on the specific requirements of a case, specialty occupation letters can also be crafted to explain why a candidate’s particular background is relevant to the position at hand.

Some companies that provide Specialty Occupation Evaluations:

By including firms on this list, International Student and Scholar Services is not endorsing or otherwise recommending one firm over another. Rather, individuals are advised to engage in as much research as possible before selecting a specific firm. In addition, ISSS does not guarantee an approval of the H-1B petition, even if your Department provides a Specialty Occupation Evaluation.

Specialty occupation

The statutory definition of "specialty occupation" is: INA 214(i)(1)

For purposes of section 101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b), 101(a)(15)(E)(iii), and paragraph (2), the term "specialty occupation" means an occupation that requires

(A) theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and

(B) attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

Note that the statutory definition requires not only at least a bachelor's degree, but a bachelor's degree "in the specific specialty." The DHS regulatory definition of specialty occupation repeats this focus on a degree in a specific specialty:

8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(ii)

Specialty occupation means an occupation which requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in fields of human endeavor including, but not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts, and which requires the attainment of a bachelor's degree or higher in a specific specialty, or its equivalent, as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

H-1B Specialty Workers

  • USCIS now seeks a near exact match between job offer title, duties, and candidate’s degree, only accepting alternative degrees ratified by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. For positions not yet recognized by the OOH, USCIS may accept official recognition of alternative degrees by authoritative experts in the field (e.g. professional organizations).
  • USCIS has been denying H-1B Petitions where the industry and employers accept a wide range of ostensibly “disparate” degrees as prerequisites for entry into the position – on the basis that a position cannot be considered a “specialty occupation” where the employer does not require a specific enough specialty.