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USCIS Showing Preference for Immigrants Holding Advanced Degrees in H-1B Visa Program

In the past, the H-1B visa program consisted of a total of 85,000 H-1B visas. Out of the total number of these visas, 65,000 went to applicants with bachelor’s degrees, and the remaining 20,000 went to applicants with advanced degrees. There were separate random pools for workers who only held bachelor’s degrees and workers who held advanced degrees.

Last year, for the 2020 H-1B cap season, USCIS selected visa applicants only from a single pool of applicants. As a result, USCIS first randomly chose the regular 65,000 visa applicants, regardless of whether they had bachelor’s degrees or advanced degrees. The remaining 20,000 spots went only to applicants with advanced degrees. As a practical matter, this means that more individuals who held advanced degrees were awarded H-1B visas than in the past. USCIS states that this change increased by approximately 16% of the H-1B visa holders having a master’s degree or higher, which is about 5,300 more workers with advanced degrees.

USCIS Showing Preference for Immigrants Holding Advanced Degrees in H-1B Visa Program

For the 2021 cap season, however, the order by which USCIS selections H-1B visa petitions will be wholly reversed. USCIS first will select 65,000 applicants who hold master’s degrees or higher from a U.S. institution or a foreign equivalent. The remaining 20,000 visas will be for applicants who hold only a bachelor’s degree. This significant change in the H-1B visa selection process will result in far more workers with advanced degrees than in the past.

USCIS also is debuting its new electronic registration system this season, which will open for submissions on March 1, 2020, and close on March 20, 2020. Employers will need to create the appropriate online accounts and pay a $10 registration fee for each intended worker. At this point in the registration process, employers will only provide basic information about their company and intended workers. USCIS then will choose randomly from the registrations that employers have submitted, and only those employers will be eligible to proceed with filing H-1B visa applications.

An experienced Texas immigration attorney can help you with all aspects of immigration law. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and present your options. Finally, we can help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

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