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All About The H-1B Visa Cap

All About The H-1B Visa Cap

Working in the United States is a dream that many people across the world share, so it’s no surprise that the H-1B worker visa is one of the most popular ones in the world. Due to the number of rules and regulations surrounding occupation and immigration, there are some restrictions that can hinder you from getting the visa. The H-1B Cap is one of these impediments. 

At HiCounselor, we get a high number of candidates who want to work in the US. That’s why we’ve created a series of H-1B articles to help you understand the various steps and terminologies. Read on to find out more about the H-1B Cap, how it applies to you and what you can do about it. If you’re looking for companies that sponsor the H-1B visa, you can use our free search tool here. If you’d like more help in boosting your career, contact us to find out what we can do for you!

What’s the H-1B Cap?

Since working in the US is a popular goal, the USCIS receives many visa applications each year. Not all of these can be granted. The Immigration Act of 1990 created the H-1B Cap, which limits the annual number of foreign employees that can be allowed to work in the US. Over time, the number has differed; in 1998 the cap stood at 115,000 but in 2004 it was pushed back to its original number of 65,000 visas available each year. 

What’s the Master’s Cap?

Those who have a Master’s degree or another advanced qualification in their field have their H-1B visa petition logged in the Master’s Cap. This is an additional number of 20,000 and the petitions are selected from among all the petitions placed by those with advanced degrees. This means your chances of obtaining the visa are higher. To qualify, you should have received the degree from a US institute that’s accredited by a nationally recognized agency and is either public or non-profit in nature. 

What’s the H-1B Cap Exemption?

There are some petitions that can be considered exempt to the H-1B Cap. This can apply if the employer is a non-profit research/government organization, a higher education institute, a non-profit affiliated with a higher education institute, or a for-profit company hiring an employee to work at any of the three entities mentioned above. 

If a worker has been granted an H-1B Cap exemption before, they won’t be subject to the cap. The Cap exemption will then be applicable to extension of stay in the US, change in terms of employment, change in employers and working jointly with a second H-1B position. If you’re an F-1 student, you can apply for OPT, which allows you to work for 12 months (an additional 24 if you’re from a STEM field) along with a 2-month grace period. 

How Does the H-1B Cap Work?

H-1B visa petitions should be filed by the employers while the Cap window is open, which is usually the first business day in April. The H-1B Cap ends as soon as the number is reached, so you want to submit your petition as soon as possible. The USCIS tracks the H-1B petitions it receives and decides the date by when it reaches the congressional cap set on the visas. 

The H-1B visa petitions are put through a computer to be randomly selected. Out of those, 20,000 will be chosen from the Master’s Cap and the rest will be re-entered into the regular Cap. After the 65,000 limit is reached, the rest of the H-1B visa petitions are rejected and returned along with the filing fees. 

Does Premium Processing Affect the Cap?

Premium processing is an optional service for those who want to shorten their processing time from around six months to just 15 calendar days. This doesn’t in any way increase your chance of getting the H-1B Cap. However, if you’ve been asked for Request for Evidence and have a short timeframe in which to re-submit your petition, premium processing can be advantageous. 

We hope this information has clarified what the H-1B Cap means and how it may apply in your case. If you’re looking for companies that sponsor the H-1B visa, you can use our handy tool here, which conveniently displays not just company names but also recruiter names and their information! If you’d like more help in securing a job, get in touch with us at HiCounselor and see what we can do for your career.