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Court overturns H-1B visa denial over degree requirements

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2020 | Employment Immigration

Many companies in California have been troubled by a growing number of refusals of their petitions for H-1B visas. This visa program allows employers to sponsor highly skilled and talented foreign employees, including a number of graduates of American science and technology university programs. However, some companies may be pleased to learn of one decision in federal court, in which a judge ruled that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) did not act properly when they denied one company’s H-1B petition. USCIS had argued that the company’s petition did not qualify for the visa program because it did not require a “specialty application.”

In their H-1B visa petition, the company, InspectionXpert Corporation, required a skilled engineer with a background in computer-aided design and mechanical engineering, like that of the worker they proposed to sponsor. However, they mentioned in their petition that a degree was required but that a computer science degree may also be appropriate, as well as a mechanical engineering degree. The sponsored worker on the petition had a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. As a result, USCIS argued that because people with different degrees could theoretically perform the job, it was not sufficiently specialized, although the position required a high degree of detailed experience with specific programs.

The company challenged USCIS’ denial of its H-1B petition in court, arguing that the field of engineering was sufficiently specific to qualify for the program. The judge in the case agreed, noting that USCIS had, on multiple occasions, found that positions could qualify even if the employee could hold a degree in one of several subspecialties.

Navigating the H-1B process can be complex, especially when USCIS is increasing its rate of application denials. Companies may work with an immigration law attorney to deal with the business immigration system and aim to achieve a successful outcome.