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USCIS Clarified the Term “Science or Art” For Schedule A, Group II Occupations

USCIS issued policy guidance to update the Schedule A, Group II definition of science or art. This update was made to align with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) definition of science or art.

What are Schedule A Occupations?

In general, the employer must obtain an approved permanent labor certification from the DOL before filing an Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140) with USCIS under the employment-based second and third preference. An approved permanent labor certification application demonstrates that:

  • The petitioner tested the labor market in the geographic area where the permanent job offer is located to establish that there are no able, qualified, and available U.S. workers who are willing to accept the permanent job offer; and
  • The employment of the beneficiary will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

However, for certain occupations, the DOL has predetermined there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available pursuant to regulation. These occupations are “Schedule A occupations,” and consist of the following Groups:

  • Group I – Physical therapists and professional nurses; and
  • Group II – Immigrants of exceptional ability in the science or arts, including college and university teachers, and immigrants of exceptional ability in the performing arts.

As such, an employer who wishes to hire a person for a Schedule A occupation does not need to conduct a test of the labor market and apply for a permanent labor certification with DOL. Such an employer may submit the labor certification directly to USCIS, bypassing DOL review, which may save time and cost spent for the process while minimizing uncertainties inherent in the process.

What is New about Policy Guidance?

USCIS considers the DOL regulations when adjudicating Schedule A petitions. Accordingly, USCIS clarified that the definition of “science or art” in the Schedule A, Group II alines to its definition of the DOL. The DOL defines “science or art” as any field of knowledge or skill with respect to which colleges and universities commonly offer specialized courses leading to a degree in the knowledge or skill.

USCIS also made an additional update explaining that, as with all adjudications, it reviews both the quantity and the quality of the evidence provided.

This guidance applies to requests that are pending or filed on or after April 10, 2024. USCIS’ original announcement on this guidance is here.

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