The position of Market Research Analyst does qualify as an H-1B specialty occupation even though it does not require a baccalaureate degree in that single academic discipline, according to a recent decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division (Residential Finance Corporation v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Case No. 2:12-cv-00008 03/12/12).
Residential Finance Corporation (RFC) filed a petition seeking an H-1B visa to employ a prospective employee in the position of a Market Research Analyst. The USCIS subsequently denied the petition on the basis that the “Market and Survey Researcher” section of the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) does not indicate that market analyst research positions normally require at least a bachelor’s degree in a specific specialty. The USCIS concluded that the occupational category was not a specialty occupation because the OOH did not specify that a specific specialty degree is required for the position.
RFC sought judicial review from the Court and filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court granted RFC’s motion, overturned the denial, and ordered the USCIS to grant the H-1B petition and change the beneficiary’s status to H-1B nonimmigrant.
The Court said that the USCIS approach was too narrow, and that the prospective employee’s knowledge is what is relevant, and not the title of the degree. The Court held that diplomas rarely come bearing occupation-specific majors, and that what is required is an occupation that requires highly specialized knowledge and a prospective employee who has attained the credentialing indicating possession of that knowledge. The Court cited legal precedent that reasoned such narrow interpretation would preclude any position from satisfying the “specialty occupation” requirements where a specific degree is not available in that field.
The Court noted that a market and survey researcher is a distinct occupation with a specialized course of study that includes multiple specialized fields, that the prospective employee had completed such specialized study in the relevant fields of marketing and finance, and that RFC sought to employ him in such a position. The Court held that it was enough that RFC provided evidence that the position required a baccalaureate degree, and there is no apparent requirement that the specialized study needed to be in a single academic discipline as opposed to a specialized course of study in related business specialties.