Cross-Border Blog

The H-1B Specialty Occupations – Earmark KeyForeign Employees for Your U.S. Business

United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)

Employers seeking to employ specialty workers in the U.S. may consider the H-1B as an option to bring in foreign workers for their U.S. business. The process is lengthy but if specific employees are desired, it is often the only pathway to work authorization. The H-1B registration process is a lottery but an employee with a master’s degree can increase the chances of being selected. Prospective employees may be more willing to risk the lottery due to the potential for a green card application. A Labor Certification Application is needed, and Registrations need to be submitted by the end of March for an October 1 start date.


Whether an H-1B will work for a specific employee is dependent on their level of education and the
proposed position in the U.S.

The prospective employee must hold a U.S. bachelor’s (or higher degree), a foreign equivalent, or
otherwise be licensed by a state in the U.S. for the proposed position. If the employee has a master’s
degree, it can significantly improve the chances of selection in the lottery process.

The proposed position must also qualify as a specialty occupation. To qualify, the occupation must
require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and the
attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in that specific specialty (or equivalent) is required as a
minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.

The position must also meet one of the following criteria:
1. a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum entry requirement for
the particular position;
2. the degree requirement is common to such positions in the industry;
3. the employer normally requires a degree for the position; or
4. the nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to
perform the duties is usually associates with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or more.



First, employers must submit a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labour to certify the position is qualified for an H-1B petition. A certified Labor Condition Application is required prior to registering (see below).


Second, employers will need to register online for the H-1B cap lottery. Only 65,000 of registrants are
selected each year from all successful registration applications. This cap is what makes the H-1B a
lottery. There are 20,000 additional registration positions selected for beneficiaries with a master’s
degree or higher, thereby increasing the chance of selection for those individuals.


Last year there were over 700,000 registrations! Many of these registrations were deficient, and so the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) regularly conducts second and even third rounds of selections each year to meet the H-1B cap. Some specific applications, such as for
employment with institutions of higher education, are exempt from the cap on selected registrations.


Typically, the time to register opens early in March and closes at the end of the month, so it is important to have the Labor Condition Application completed as early as possible to be in time for the deadline.


If the registration is selected, the employee then files an H-1B petition at their local U.S. Consulate.
Presuming they are approved, the earliest start date allowed for the employee is October 1 of the same year the registration is selected. They will be authorized to stay and work in the U.S. for 3 years upon
approval of their status.


The specifics of the H-1B application process are intricate and difficult to navigate, but we are here to
help you. Ingenuity Counsel is a cross-border law firm with years of experience in solving U.S.
immigration matters for our clients. We can help meet your business’ U.S. immigration needs such as
applying for the Labor Condition Application, helping you through the H-1B registration process, and
preparing the final petition for your employee. We can also help with U.S. corporate & commercial
matters. Please do not hesitate to contact our office by phone at 519-252-3888 or by email to

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