Overview of H-1B Masters Students Quota

Who is eligible & who is not

On April 1st, 2007 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting new H-1B petitions (from professional with Bachelor’s degree or equivalent) that will be counted against the FY2008 Cap. Keeping in mind the fact that in 2006, it took only 56 days to reach the cap of 65,000, we anticipate it may take even less time this year.

However, there is good news for all the students who have finished their Master’s degree in the US and are now looking to transition into a professional life. Since 2005, the H-1B visa Reform Act of 2004, (which went into effect on May 2005) has made way for 20,000 additional H-1B visas for foreign workers with master’s degree or equivalent from a U.S. Institute. Which means USCIS now accepts 20,000 Exempt H1B petitions for beneficiaries who have completed their master’s degree in the US for the FY 2007.

Eligibility criteria for applying under the Masters quota

  • Complete All Course Requirements Including Thesis: As per USCIS guidelines, eligibility for Master’s quota requires completion of ALL course requirements including submission / defense of thesis as on date of filing the H1B petition.

    If your thesis is not complete as on date of filing, you will NOT be able to file under the Masters quota and will miss out on a whole year. USCIS has given very clear guidelines as to this point in eligibility.

  • The beneficiary should provide at least one of the following:
  1. Copy of the Masters degree award or
  2. A letter from the chair / head of the department/ Dean / program advisor that ALL course requirements towards award of the Masters degree has been completed by the beneficiary INCLUDING the submission / defense of thesis supported by transcripts from the University.

*Students who can not get at least one of the above documentation should apply for their H1B’s in general quota based on their Bachelors degree.

Planning Ahead

Even if you have heard this before, we repeat nothing beats being ready. If you are planning to file your H1B petition under the Master’s Quota, make sure you fulfill the criteria well in time.

Missing out the quota at the last moment will mean two things. One, you have to wait a whole year and two; you might end up being out of status.

However, if you are sure that you will not be able complete the requirement criteria by the date of application, you a few options:

  1. You can still go ahead and file under the regular Cap and keep your fingers crossed
  2. You can make sure that you can complete your thesis by time for next years H1B.
  3. You can also adjust the timing of completing your thesis so that you can fill the time gap between with a One year OPT which will keep you in status till its time for filing for H1B.

Immitips has always been trying to give special focus and attention to students and in an effort to further help students seeking H1B status for FY 2007, IMMITIPS has created a dedicated help email for Students: f1student@immitips.com. Please email your questions with your contact number and your queries will be answered accordingly.