H-1B visa: Master’s degree can give you an edge

New norms also give higher probability to those who complete programme in accredited non-profit university in US

By Author  |  Published: 13th Apr 2019  12:05 amUpdated: 12th Apr 2019  11:49 pm

Hyderabad: International students who complete their Master’s or higher programme in an accredited non-profit university in the US have higher probability of getting the H-1B visa from this year, thanks to new regulations of the US government.

The US government annually grants 85,000 H-1B visas, including 65,000 under regular cap and 20,000 for Master’s or higher degree holders from US varsities (also known as US advanced degree exemption) every year.

With the government receiving increasing number of petitions than the slot available every year, the visas were being granted through lottery system. So far, petitioners holding a Master’s or a higher degree from a US university were given first preference in the lottery system. Those who failed to get the visa were moved to the regular cap. Here too, the lottery system was being followed for selecting the petitioners.

Starting this year, the US government reversed the process of the selection. This mean, the lottery system for the regular cap (65,000 H-1B slot) will be conducted first with all petitions, including ones filed by Master’s or higher degree holders and employers for their employees. The new process would give petitioners with Master’s degree or higher qualification from an accredited US non-profit varsity a second chance of bagging the H-1B visa under the Master cap (20,000 slot).

“The new H-1B regulation will benefit international students who completed their Master’s or higher degree from non-profit universities in the US,” said G Narsi Reddy, an expert in US education.

According to estimates of the US Department of Homeland Security, with the new process, H-1B visas for Master’s degree holders or higher from non-profit varsities would go up to 16 per cent which translates to 5,340 visas. Meanwhile, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 2,01,011 petitions for H-1B this fiscal for which registrations began on April 1. By April 5, USCIS received adequate number of registrations.

The computer-generated random selection process to select H-1B petitions for the regular and master cap was done recently. While not mentioning the number of petitions received for the master cap, USCIS said it received a number of applications projected as sufficient to meet the master cap of 20,000.

“In accordance with the new H-1B regulation, USCIS first conducted the selection process for H-1B regular cap (includes petitions submitted by Master’s and higher degree holders, and employers on employees’ behalf). USCIS then selected a number projected to reach the advanced degree exemption from the remaining eligible petitions. It will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fee, unless the petition was filed multiple times,” USCIS said in a release.