Over the past three H-1B cap-subject seasons, we have seen an unprecedented rise in specialty occupation RFEs calling jobs into question that had never run into trouble before. This trend is echoed across the entire H-1B visa program, with overall approval rates plummeting from over 80% in 2015 to around 60% for FY2019.
USICS approval trends changing, however, is nothing new. Before the rise of the specialty occupation RFE, education issues were the big change. USCIS began issuing RFEs
Over the past two years, H-1B jobs that had previously been approved as specialty occupations – such as electrical engineer or computer programmer – are now receiving RFEs as responses to initial petitions instead of approval. This is because USCIS has raised its standards of proof without a new law or regulation, and without notice.
While USCIS approval trends change from year to year – and there are never any guarantees with USCIS – this change was sudden, drastic, and is a threat to STE
The numbers show that the same specialty occupations approved for H-1B visas just a few years ago are now being called into question.
According to Forbes, in FY2017 only 3% of H-1B extension petitions were denied. These petitions are for beneficiaries whose H-1B visas were previously approved. Then, in FY2018, the denial rate more than doubled, jumping to 12%, and then to 18% in the first quarter of FY2019. All of the top 27 employers of H-1B beneficiaries experienced this spike in den
When USCIS takes issue with one aspect of an H-1B petition, they rarely stop there. One common example is the Double Nightmare RFE, which is a specialty occupation RFE and a wage level RFE rolled into one.
Complicated RFEs are answered by going back to the basic approval requirements. Getting wrapped up in the wording and specific demands of an RFE is a trap. Read it over with your team, then put it down and go back to the basics. For H-1B eligibility, a job must meet specialty occupa
Keeping in pace with the past two years, specialty occupation RFEs are common this RFE season, and computer programmers have been hit especially hard yet again.
Computer programmers – especially those making level one wages – are especially vulnerable to specialty occupation RFEs because entry level computer programmers can sometimes be hired with only a US associate’s degree. H-1B specialty occupation requirements state that an occupation must require a minimum of a US bachelor’s degree o
Every year, a higher percentage of H-1B beneficiaries selected in the lottery receive an RFE this time of year instead of outright visa approval. If you, or if your employee or client received an H-1B RFE this year, there is a high probability that is was a specialty occupation RFE.
Last year, USCIS bombarded H-1B petitioners with RFEs questioning whether their job met the requirements for “specialty occupation.” H-1B visas are work visas for foreign employees working jobs that require a
A recurring RFE we see every year with H-1B candidates is the education RFE for the Indian three-year bachelor’s degree. Candidates who do not submit credential evaluations that account for the missing fourth year of education with their initial petition get RFEs about it this time of year.
Graduate schools commonly accept the Indian three-year bachelor’s degree as an acceptable prerequisite to their programs, and employers will hire employees to specialty occupations with this credential.
Our readers have posted several comments and questions about the delay from USCIS in adjudicating H1B petitions after the RFE response has received under normal processing.
What are the options to notify the USCIS and expedite adjudication of the H1B petition if USCIS has taken longer than 60 days?
Please note that the following actions can only be performed by your H1B Employer and/or Attorney on record. If you are the beneficiary, please discuss with your H1B Employer.
USCIS and employers have a different idea of what qualified an H-1B employee for their specialty occupation. It is commonplace for employers to hire a candidate with a degree in a field related to the position, given they have proper work experience to master the specialized skills and knowledge necessary to perform it.
It has been years since USCIS has regularly approved H-1B cases in which a beneficiary has the required US Bachelor’s degree in a field RELATED to the specialty occupation.
Last year we had countless clients come to us with specialty occupation RFEs. Some of them came to us with RFEs that they had tried to get overturned with an expert opinion letter, and failed.
One such client came to us with a specialty occupation RFE for computer programmer. He had submitted an expert opinion letter with the petition, anticipating issues arising. However, the expert opinion letter he included in his petition was from the WRONG expert.
USCIS only acknowledges expert
RFE season is now, and when CIS finds one problem with a petition, they tend to find more. Over the past few years, we have seen a common double RFE involving specialty occupation and education issues.
H-1B eligibility rules state that to qualify for H-1B status the H-1B employee must hold a US Bachelor’s degree or higher or its equivalent in the exact field of the H-1B job. The job must be a specialty occupation, one that requires a minimum of the H-1B educational requirements for entry
Below is a list of the top reasons, in order from most to least common, that RFEs were issued in fiscal year (FY) 2018 for H-1B petitions.
RFE Discussions group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rfediscussions
H1B Extension or Transfer Denied (To know next steps): https://www.facebook.com/groups/h1bextensiontransferdenied/
1. Specialty Occupation :The petitioner did not establish that the position qualifies as a specialty occupatio