The H-1B visa program has been important for a number of employers in Georgia, especially those dealing with science and technology. This program allows companies to sponsor highly skilled foreign workers in specific skilled occupations, including many graduates of advanced degree programs at American universities. Despite the extensive requirements of the program and its restriction to highly skilled workers with unique skills, many companies have seen an increasing number of H-1B visa application denials in recent years, raising concerns about the future of the program.

In one case, a federal judge overturned U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)’ denial of such a petition, filed by a technology company seeking to sponsor a skilled engineer with experience in computer-aided design and mechanical engineering. While the employee they sponsored had a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, the company wrote in their petition that another type of engineering degree may also be suitable for the position. USCIS relied on this language to deny the H-1B visa petition, arguing that if people with multiple degrees could do the job, it would not qualify as a “specialty occupation,” despite the high degree of specific skills required.

After USCIS dismissed its expert reports and other evidence, the company challenged the denial in court. The judge sided with the employer and said that the court did not have to show deference to USCIS about its interpretation of the rule. With extensive documentation of previous rulings and decisions, the judgment noted that “specialty occupation” did not mean that graduates with only one type of degree could do the job, especially since engineering was itself a specialty.

Many employers may be worried about navigating the bureaucracy of the immigration system, especially given the changes in U.S. immigration law. An immigration attorney may provide advice on H-1B visas and other aspects of employment immigration.