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All You Need to Know About H1B Master's Degree Exemption
April 15, 2022
8 mins
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Here is a three-point gist of what you will read about in this article:

  • An introduction to H1B advanced or master’s degree exemption
  • Eligibility criteria for H1B master’s exemption
  • Your chances of selection in the H1B master's degree exemption

The H1B Visa Masters Degree Exemption - an Introduction

The H1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa allotted to foreign national professionals qualified for specialty occupation jobs in the U.S. To manage the large number of applications for H1B visas, the USCIS sets an annual limit or ‘cap’ on the number of visas that are approved and uses a random lottery to choose the registrations that go for final processing.

So, how can you make your registration stand out in the large pool of applicants? Let’s take a look at the following numbers.

The regular H-1B visa cap allots 65,000 petitions to sufficiently qualified or skilled foreign workers every year. Additionally, 6,800 spots are reserved for Chilean and Singaporean residents. The USCIS also holds a special lottery specifically for advanced degree students who have gained master’s degrees in the U.S. from eligible U.S. institutions. This lottery is called the advanced or master’s degree exemption. This is where you have a chance to stand out. The USCIS reserves 20,000 spots for applicants who hold a US Master’s degree or higher from eligible institutions with the H1B advanced degree exemption.

The H1B master’s cap degree exemption lottery is not really an exemption - it does not exempt you from the H1B visa cap. The main benefit is that it gives your H-1B registration a second-chance selection opportunity. When you register for the advanced degree exemption, your application will be placed in the H1B master’s cap if it is not selected for the regular cap, giving you a second chance at selection.

Before you start reading about the Eligibility criteria for H1B Masters Degree Exemption, checkout the detailed overview on H1B cap exempt.

Eligibility Criteria for H1B Masters Degree Exemption

The two main requirements to qualify you for the H1B cap exempt eligibility revolve around U.S. universities and institutions from where you pursue your graduate degree. The institute should be:

  • A U.S. institution that is non-profit in nature
  • A U.S. institution that has received accreditation from a recognized agency

The following are accrediting bodies, recognized formally in the U.S.:

  • Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
  • Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training

So, when selecting an institute for your masters degree or higher education in the U.S., it is important to ensure that it is a public institute with the required accreditations. Please note that these qualifications must be proved in addition to all other H1B requirements. Failure to meet the statutory requirements before filing will result in a denial of your petition, and you won’t qualify even to be placed in regular cap lottery. Therefore, it is best to get all your documents in order before filing for the H1B regular and master's cap to avoid unnecessary delays and frustration.

Also Read : H1B Visa Cap & Everything you Need to Know About it

H1B Master’s Cap Institutions That are Ineligible

Not all U.S. - based institutes qualify as eligible H1b master's cap institutes. The two-fold eligibility of proper accreditation and non-proprietary are a must when choosing the right institute.

Going with assumptions and false information can land you in trouble, so get your facts right before making a final decision. Take a look at the following case study:

The University of Northern Virginia was once a fully accredited institute. However, a string of violations led to the government revoking their accreditation and subsequently shutting down the institute in 2013. Graduates from UNV were no longer eligible for the H1B master’s cap but could register for the regular cap.

Educational institutes being non-profit is another important qualification that many hopeful H1B applicants overlook. A school recognized as proprietary is a for-profit, non-public institute and, therefore, ineligible for H1B master’s cap lottery consideration.

Chances of Being Picked in H1B Master’s Cap Lottery

The USCIS receives about 40,000 master's applications for H1B visas every fiscal year. Since 20,000 slots are reserved for the H1B master’s cap lottery, a student pursuing masters education stands a fifty percent chance of being picked in the master’s cap lottery.

How the H1B Master’s Cap Increases My Chances of Being Selected?

All registrations are first placed in regular H1B cap. USCIS will select a few master’s degree applicants from the regular cap without entering them into the master’s lottery. Unselected registrations with a post-graduate degree qualification will be entered into the master’s lottery. If unselected in this regular cap, your application will face less competition in the master’s cap since a few master’s applications have already been selected in the first lottery.

For the best chances of being selected, it is always best to work with a qualified professional to make informed decisions about your application.

H1B Lottery Results - Where Do You Stand?

Since H1B is a random selection process, it is difficult to determine exactly how good your chances are for selection. To arrive at a probability figure, we can consider that in F.Y. 2021, the USCIS received 274,237 H1B petitions. From the 65,000 regular visa annual cap for H1B visas, if we remove the 6,800 allotted for Chilean and Singaporean applicants, we arrive at a probability figure of lower than 23% for selection in the 2021- 2011 H1B lottery selection.

In Conclusion

Filing accurately filled documentation on time is still the best way to increase your odds in the H1B master’s cap. Submitting all your documents within the official publication period ensures that your chances of winning the lottery or random selection are not missed.

If you are just starting your H1B application, check TechFetch H1B for legitimate H1B information.

**Disclaimer: H1B rules and regulations keep changing from time to time. For updated information, always refer to the USCIS official website.

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Article by Techfetch H1B team

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