Timelines for filing H-1B under “Master’s Cap”

As the fiscal year 2024 (FY2024) H-1B cap season begins, foreign nationals and employers should be aware of some important details about the H-1B advanced-degree exemption, also known as the “master’s cap“. Those who are eligible for the master’s cap can take advantage of this exemption; however, if a petition is filed under the master’s cap for someone who does not qualify for this exemption, a petition is likely to be denied or a previously approved petition is likely to be revoked.

In addition to the normal H-1B cap of 65,000, there are an additional 20,000 H-1B numbers. The additional 20,000 H-1B visas are reserved for those with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. college or university who meet two specific requirements: (1) The school is accredited by a nationally recognized accredited agency or association (pre-accreditation status is acceptable as well). (2). The school is a public university or a non-profit organization. If either of these conditions is not met, the beneficiary will not be eligible for the H-1B master’s cap exemption.

To be eligible for the master’s cap, the beneficiary must have received the advanced degree or completed all course requirements by the time the cap subject H-1B petition is filed; the degree does not have to be earned by the time the H-1B registration is submitted in the lottery. In other words, it is acceptable to file a lottery for a master’s cap even if the beneficiary has not yet earned his master’s degree, as long as the beneficiary earns his master’s degree before the H-1B application is filed with the USCIS.

To summarize, the beneficiary must have completed their master’s degree prior to filing the H-1B petition to be eligible for the H-1B Master’s cap. It is critical to plan ahead of time and have all necessary documents ready to submit during the annual H-1B cap filing period.