U.S. District Court Finds Market Research Analyst is a Professional H-1B Position

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in the case of Residential Finance Corporation v. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), in its March 12, 2012 decision ruled that the subject position of Market Research Position in an H-1B petition is a specialty occupation that satisfied the H-1B requirement.

In this case, Residential Finance Corporation filed an H-1b petition on behalf of Mr. Geza Rakoczi. The company hoped to hire him as a market research analyst. Mr. Rakoczi graduated from Franklin University who obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and finance. USCIS denied the petition with the reason that the subject position of Market Research Analyst is not a specialty occupation as required in immigration law.

A “specialty occupation” is an “an occupation that requires . . . attainment of a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.” 8 U.S.C. sec 1184(i)(1)(B).

The USCIS reached its decision based on its reading of the United States Department of Labor’s 2010-11 edition of the Occupation Outlook Handbook (“OOH”). It reasoned that although the OOH recognized a bachelor degree is the minimum educational requirement for many market and survey research jobs, the OOH does not indicate that these degrees need to be in a specific specialty directly related to market research. The USCIS’s position was that since OOH did not mention specifically that a degree in specific specialty is required, therefore the position of Market Research Position is not a specific specialty occupation.

The Court disagreed with USCIS’s position that it is too narrow. The Court opined: “A market and survey researcher is a distinct occupation with a specialized course of study that includes multiple specialized fields, that Rokozci had completed such specialized study I the relevant fields of marketing and finance . . . “ The Court further stated that “[t]he knowledge and not title of the degree is what is important. Diplomas rarely come bearing occupation-specific majors. 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”

In conclusion, the fact that a specific degree is not available in a specific field does not preclude a position in that field to be in a specialty occupation.