In order to obtain a H-1B visa, a potential employee is required to show that he or she has an unrestricted state license, registration or certification which authorizes him or her to fully practice the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment. 8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(h)(4)(v)
Licensing is required for certain professionals in California: occupational therapists, physical therapists, architects and social workers, to name a few.
If you do not have a license to practice the occupation, there are several other “work-arounds” that you may pursue and still obtain a H-1B visa.
- Obtain a temporary license
- Become licensed in another state that is faster
- Work under the license of a professional
Many occupations allow professionals to obtain a temporary license. For instance, it can take social workers years before they are eligible to take the licensing exam but applicants may apply to be “Associate Clinical Social Workers” (ASW) and work under the supervision of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker while they are pursuing their post-masters experience and preparing for the licensing exam. USCIS regulations permit such employment if a temporary license is available and if the duties of the occupation can be performed without a permanent license. In this situation, USCIS will examine the nature of the duties, the level at which the duties are performed, the degree of supervision received, and any limitations placed on the worker. If an analysis of the facts demonstrates that the individual under supervision is authorized to fully perform the duties of the occupation, H classification may be granted. 8 C.F.R. Section 214.2(h)(4)(v)(B)
I am not familiar with the licensing requirements of all states but some states may have a faster licensing process than California does. Once licensed in another state, it may be possible to work in California for a brief time while applying for licensing in California. For instance an occupational therapist who holds a valid license in another state may work in California for 60 calendar days from the date he or she submits an application to the Board of Occupational Therapy.
For some professions it is possible to work under the license of a professional. Architects have to go through a lengthy process to become licensed in California. They must go through an intern development program and take exams. While going through this process, they may work as “intern architects” for a licensed architect in H-1B status.