New H-1B Visa Rules to Favor U.S Master’s Degree Holders: What You Need To Know

    Updated on: 07 Sep 2023

    The United States of America is a cultural melting pot as lakhs of people from different nations come to the US in order to live the Great American Dream. With Donald Trump’s presidency, various visa rules have brought in major changes and have impacted the immigration process as well. This year, The United States Immigration and Citizenship Services, commonly called USCI, received a whopping 1.90 lakh applications for the H-1B visa.

    Recently, USCI announced some changes in the H-1B visa intake process. It will now reverse the order of conducting the “Regular” and “Masters” lucky draw cap for the H-1 B visas. According to their statement, unlike the normal trend, they will now conduct the “Regular” lucky draw cap before the “Master’s” lottery cap – a step that is set to favor those holding a Master's degree from a U.S institute.

    Latest Update: The US Department of State has provided a recent update stating that the fee for US student visas will be increased to $185 from $160, effective May 30, 2023.

    How the New Process will Work?

    As a result of Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, the new rules need to be understood properly. In this blog, let us discuss how this new process will work, while also analyzing some of its pros and cons.

    • The first step is unchanged and like before, the employers will have to register online, before submission of the H-1B applications.
    • The second step involves a major change. The lottery cap order here is reversed and the “Regular” cap lottery, which gives out 65,000 H-1B visas, will be held first. The “Master’s cap lottery – which gives an additional 20,000 H-1B visas – will be held later.
    • Unlike earlier, only the people selected in the lottery will have to file the entire H-1B application. This single step is estimated to save sponsoring firms approximately $76 million annually.
    • Those who meet all the H-1B requirements will be given the visa.

    To know more about H-1B Visa, click here.

    The New Order: Advantages and Disadvantages

    • The new order will include all Master’s and higher degree holders under the Regular lottery cap. All those Master’s and higher degree holders who are not selected in the “Regular” lottery draw will then be included in the “Master’s” lucky draw. This will essentially give them a higher chance of being selected.
    • This new rule is aimed at prioritizing applicants having an advanced degree from a US institute over those with similar degrees from abroad.
    • However, like every coin has two sides, this decision also has its disadvantages. The new decision will put Bachelors degree holders and Medical degree holders at a great disadvantage.
    • Doctors pursuing a degree in Graduate Medical Education (GME) in the U.S will not be eligible for the Master’s lottery cap.  However, earlier, trying their luck in 65,000 H-1B visas gave them a higher probability of being selected.
    • The same is the case for lawyers, many of whom do not have advanced degrees from the U.S.

    Will a Master’s or higher degree from any U.S Institute qualify for the Master’s Lottery cap?

    The answer here is a big “No”.  It is mandatory for the applicant to have earned his or her Master’s or higher degree from a U.S institution that has been accredited by a nationally recognized agency. Additionally, the Institute should also be not-for-profit and public. If you are unsure about whether your institute is accredited or not, you can check here and get a clearer picture. If your institute qualifies for the Master’s Lottery cap, then the next step is to make sure that you meet the other H-1B visa requirements too.

    If you have been thinking of pursuing a Master’s from the U.S, then this is the perfect time to go for it. Apply for a U.S student visa now and pursue a Master’s or higher degree from the U.S. Who knows, you might just get selected because of this new rule when you apply for an H-1B visa!

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    First published date: 07 Jan 2019


About author

Aishwarya Bhatt
A bookworm who transforms into a web-usability evangelist, when her favorite blend of coffee is flowing in her veins. Happiest in a bookstore and when she is painting with words on paper!

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