By Rahul Reddy & Emily Neumann, Attorneys at Law, Reddy & Neumann PC
If your U.S. master’s degree is from a private, for-profit university or an unaccredited school and you obtained your H-1B approval under the Masters Cap exemption, you may run into problems obtaining an H-1B extension. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is taking a second look at H-1Bs approved under the Masters Cap exemption after some petitions appear to have been approved in error. For those cases where the initial H-1B petition was approved under the Masters Cap and the degree used to qualify for the exemption was from a private, for-profit school or an unaccredited university, the USCIS could deny the H-1B extension on the grounds that the worker was never actually counted towards the H-1B numerical limitations and is now subject to the H-1B quota. USCIS could also potentially revoke the approved H-1B petition.
On October 1st of every year, the U.S. government makes available 65,000 H-1B visas for the upcoming fiscal year. In addition, there is an advanced degree exemption provided to the first 20,000 petitions filed for an individual who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher. However, not all U.S. master’s degrees are created equal when it comes to qualifying for this exemption. The school issuing the master’s degree must meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
According to section 101(a), an institution of higher education is an educational institution that is, among other things, a public or other nonprofit institution and is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association or has been granted pre accreditation status by such an agency or association recognized for granting pre accreditation status. Under this definition, a university that is private and for-profit or that is unaccredited is not considered an institution of higher education.
If your school is a private, for-profit institution or it is unaccredited and you obtained an H-1B approval under the Masters Cap, you should contact a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible. With the new filing window opening on April 1, 2014, you may need to consider filing a new H-1B petition under the Bachelors Cap in order to avoid future problems with your H-1B visa. In addition, if you are a current F-1 student or recent graduate and are planning to file an H-1B petition in the upcoming filing window, consult with an attorney before filing under the Master CAP exemption if you attended a private, for-profit university or your school is unaccredited.
The U.S. Department of Education has published a list of regional and national accrediting agencies that are recognized by the Secretary as reliable authorities concerning the quality of education or training offered by the institutions of higher education or higher education programs they accredit. Here is a link:
Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.
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