H1-B visas are nonimmigrant work visas issued to foreign nationals qualified to work in a specialty occupation in the United States. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have a cap on the number of H1-B visa applications that can be processed yearly. The cap is set by a random lottery that selects the processed registrations.
The cap on H1-B petitions is 65,000 per year. In addition, 6,800 H1-B visas are available to Chilean and Singaporean nationals. The USCIS also administers an advanced degree student lottery for those who have earned a master’s degree in the United States from an accredited US institution.
With a Master’s degree, you can enjoy the H1-B advanced degree exemption lottery. In this lottery, you can stand out from the crowd. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) holds 20,000 open positions for H1-B applicants with a US Master’s degree or higher degrees from eligible H1-B programs.
This lottery is not really an exemption. It does not exempt you from the H1-B visa cap. However, the main advantage of this lottery is that it provides your H1-B registration with a second chance of selection. If your H1-B application is not selected under the regular cap when you register for an advanced degree exemption, then your H1-B will be placed under the H1-B Master’s degree cap.
It is that time of year again when US employers and potential foreign employees prepare to register their H1-B visas and bid on the annual visa program. One way to stand out from the crowd is to apply for the highly sought-after “Master’s” cap degree exemption.
It is a unique lottery designed explicitly for those with advanced degrees from qualifying institutions. This route increases your chances of getting selected for the visa because only a finite number of H-1Bs are available yearly. It sounds easy, but it is not. So, it is crucial to hire an immigration attorney in Texas.
Here is what you need to know before applying.
The H1-B visa cap
The H1-B visa cap is the annual limit or the maximum number of H1-B visas the USCIS can issue in a fiscal year as set by the US Congress. There are three caps: Regular, Advanced, and Chile-Singapore Caps. The Regular H1-B Cap is the first and most common, referred to as quota/cap or non-advanced degree quota/cap.
The regular one is the most basic cap set to 65,000 petitions per fiscal year. The H1-B advanced degree cap is often called the Master’s cap, quota, or US master’s degree cap for specific registrations selected. The advanced degree cap is set to 20,000 petitions per fiscal year and is always provided the year before it.
The Chilean and Singaporean H1-B visa cap is reserved at 6,800 H1-B visas yearly. You will understand different aspects of these caps better when you talk with an immigration attorney in Texas.
Chances of getting an H1-B visa with a Master’s degree
If you are an H1-B Master’s degree cap petitioner, you have a higher chance of getting an H1-B visa. Therefore, you should register before the lottery window opens. You can register through the USCIS online system before your H1-B filing deadline. The USCIS selects the registered beneficiaries using this system.
The petitioner whose registered beneficiaries are selected will submit a cap-exempt petition. You can do several things to improve your chances of winning an H1-B visa. The most obvious one is to qualify for the Master’s degree cap-exempt petition, which will increase your chances by at least several percentage points.
Also, don’t file your petition after reaching the cap; you won’t have a chance at that point. Another way to improve your chances is to submit your application and paperwork as soon as possible; if you wait too long, you will miss the window and drop to zero.
Another way to improve your chances is to hire an immigration attorney in Texas who understands how to create a one-of-a-kind lottery plan. This helps H1-B applicants and employers increase their chances of H1-B approval and selection.
Each fiscal year, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives approximately 40,000 applications under the H1-B Master’s degree cap. Since the USCIS gives only 20,000 H1-B Master’s cap slots, only 50 percent of these applicants will likely be selected for the Master’s cap.
All H1-B registrations are first placed in the ordinary cap. USCIS randomly selects a few applicants with a Master’s degree out of the ordinary cap and does not include them in its Master’s cap. Those applicants who are not selected in the ordinary cap and have a post-graduate degree will be added to USCIS’ Master’s cap program.
If you are not selected from this ordinary cap, you will have less competition for your H1-B Master’s cap application. This is because some applicants with Master’s degrees have already been picked under the regular cap.
An excellent way to increase your chances of being chosen is to work with an experienced immigration attorney in Texas to help you make proper decisions about your application.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible for the H1-B Master’s degree exemption, you must meet two primary conditions. You must have obtained your Master’s degree from an accredited American university recognized nationally. You can verify if your university or other independent colleges are part of the Master’s quota.
The second requirement is that the university be a public or non-profit school. You can find a complete list of accredited Master’s degree programs in the US on the official US Department of Education website. You can also contact an immigration attorney in Texas to get this information.
If the university you obtained your Master’s degree is not accredited, your petition will be rejected. Please keep in mind that you are subject to all the other requirements of getting an H1-B visa. You may think that every institution based in the US is accredited. Please don’t make that assumption because it can lead you down the wrong path.
For instance, the University of Northern Virginia was once accredited. Still, because of a series of violations, the accreditation was withdrawn. The university was later shut down in 2013. The university graduates could no longer file for the H1-B Master’s cap.
However, they could still file for the regular H1-B quota. This is why it is a good idea to talk with an immigration attorney in Texas to determine if you are eligible.
Green card from the H1-B Master’s cap
Moving from H1-B to employment-based green cards can be challenging, but a master’s degree can help ease the process. First, your registration will be added to the advanced degree exemption in the system. Once your registration is complete and your petition is processed and accepted, you can begin working on your H1-B visa.
The good news is that H1-B visas are considered dual intent visas, which means you can start applying for your green card. The first step in applying for a green card is selecting your preference level. The main categories of green cards are EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 green cards.
The first category is EB-1, for immigrants who have achieved extraordinary success. The second category is EB-2, for those with advanced degrees, exceptional ability, or National Interest Waiver (NWA) status. The third category is EB-3, for people with a bachelor’s degree, less than 2 years of unskilled work experience, and more than 2 years of skilled work experience.
An EB green card from Master’s cap
Once registered for the H1-B Master’s cap, you have a prime slot for an EB green card. The advantage of this is that you have a shorter waiting period for the EB-3 green card, which is the green card that most H1-B beneficiaries are eligible for. However, having a master’s degree alone isn’t enough.
You must have a job with an employer in the US that needs your degree. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) often prioritizes your position over your specific qualifications. If you apply for EB-2, your employer must get a PERM labor certification. Your employer must obtain this before filling out a petition 1-140.
When the USCIS receives your petition, the date that is assigned to you will take precedence. You will wait for your priority to match or exceed the final action date in the monthly Visa Bulletin. Once your priority is met, you can submit a petition 1-485 to change your H1-B to green card status.
An advanced degree (or, in this case, a master’s degree) can significantly reduce your green card waiting time. An immigration attorney in Texas can help you with this process.
An excellent way to boost your chances of getting an H1-B master’s degree is to submit your completed documents on time. It is crucial to file within the cap publication date. This will help you to take advantage of your chance of winning the random selection.
At Gehi and Associate, we have experienced immigration attorneys who clearly understand the H1-B cap annual requirements and calculations, the H1-B Master’s cap, and how you can take advantage of it. If you require help, you can hire our legal services to increase your chances of approval. Connect with us today!