Do two associate degrees add up to one bachelor's degree for H-1B purposes?

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Question:

I've got a two-year degree from my home country, and another two-year degree from a community college in the United States. I'm currently doing some practical training work for a tech company, and my employer would like to sponsor me for an H-1B visa. Is that a possibility? I thought H-1Bs required an actual bachelor's degree.

Answer:

The regulations set forth by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(h)) say that, in order to qualify for an H-1B visa, you must have, and the position itself must require someone who has, "a baccalaureate or higher degree or its equivalent."

It's the word "equivalent" that will be critical in determining whether you might qualify for an H-1B visa. Indeed, it is possible to show that two associate or two-year degrees add up to one baccalaureate or B.A. degree -- but it's not automatic. In the strongest case, both of your two-year degrees will have been in the same field of study as is required for the job being offered, and you will have received actual degrees in both cases.

But USCIS has accepted as “equivalent” situations where only the second degree was in the relevant field (on the theory that a couple of years worth of classes toward a B.A. aren’t really related to most students’ major anyway). It has also deemed applicants’ education as “equivalent” where the person wasn’t actually awarded a degree.

You will definitely want to get an evaluation in support of the claim to equivalency from a reputable educational credentialing service. 

For more information on H-1B eligibility, see Nolo's articles on "H-1B Visas for Temporary Specialty Workers." And for a full analysis, as well as to have the best chance of success in a case like this one, hire an experienced immigration attorney.

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