Based on the guidelines set by USCIS, 20,000 petitions are exempt from the H-1B cap for beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher. This is what’s referred to as the advanced degree exemption.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: H1B 2019-2020 Master’s Quota Lottery Reordering
We are going to discuss some changes that are in the works for the H-1B visa cap this year and in years to come. On January 30, 2019, the DHS announced a final rule, which makes two significant changes to the H-1B visa lottery process. The final rule will become effective on April 1, 2019. For H1B Visa Process Visit UT Evaluators
(1) New Master’s Cap Order
Under guidance from the Buy American and Hire American executive order, the USCIS is in the process of implementing some changes to the H-1B process to give preference and priority to highly-skilled and highly-paid workers. One such change involves the order in which the lotteries take place.
As we stated earlier, the USCIS has, in years past, conducted the master’s lottery first, then entered the unselected petitions into the regular cap. This proposed change involves a complete reversal of that order. Instead, the regular lottery will be conducted first, including all cap-subject petitions. Then, all unselected master’s petitions will be entered into the master’s lottery.
The USCIS is anticipating that this will increase the chances of master’s petitions being selected by 16%. Here is how that works.
Previously, the master’s cap would be conducted first, meaning that all cap-subject master’s petitions would be entered into the master’s lottery. If your petition was not selected, then it would be entered into the regular cap to compete with tens of thousands of petitions.
Under this new rule, the regular cap would be conducted first. Because it includes all cap-subject petitions (including master’s petitions), some master’s petitions will inevitably be selected in the regular cap without ever entering the master’s lottery. After that, all unselected master’s petitions will be entered into the master’s lottery, which will be smaller than it would be under the normal order since some master’s petitions have already been selected, shrinking the pool of potential petitions. Per DHS Final rule, this new policy will be in effect for H1B cap 2019-2020 season, starting April 1, 2019.
(2) Online Pre-registration
The USCIS is in the process of building and testing an online pre-registration system to make the H-1B lottery a more manageable process. Rather than submit a petition to enter a beneficiary into the lottery, employers will register their beneficiary with the USCIS database before the start of the filing window. To know more details on H1B Visa check Trauma2011
Petitions will still be used, but only once a beneficiary has been selected in the lottery. However, the electronic registration requirement will be suspended for the fiscal year (FY) 2019-2020 H1B cap season. Here is how this system is expected to work in the future:
A. Employers will pre-register their alien workers with the USCIS several weeks before April 1st (they will announce the exact times if this rule is implemented this year). This will involve inputting the information about the workers into the database.
B. The USCIS will conduct the lottery and choose the beneficiaries that will go onto processing (still 65,000 for the regular cap and 20,000 for the master’s cap).
C. The employers of those that were selected will then file their petitions with the USCIS for processing along with the appropriate filing fees and supporting documents.
D. If the petition is approved, then the H-1B visa will be issued and the beneficiary’s start date will be October 1st of that same year.
Therefore, employers wishing to file petitions for H-1B workers would no longer need to file petitions in order to enter the cap. The USCIS states that this new system will help them expedite the H-1B process and avoid having to handle and sift through hundreds of thousands of petitions. This also prevents them from having to return the packets and fees to all unselected petitioners.
The USCIS memo states that this registration system is still being tested, and will not completed in time for the 2020 filing season. The USCIS also reserves the right to suspend the registration system any year that they encounter technical difficulties. Check back with this post later on to see what the status is on the new system.