H-1B Cap Explained

Learn how USCICS set the annual cap of H-1B visa and how to track your case with USCIS case tracker

H-1b cap season is only about two months away. Although H-1b is not the only way to obtain a work visa and eventually lead to a Green Card or a U.S. citizenship, H-1b is still deemed one of the most common options to start making a living in the U.S. However, not many people know how exactly the application process works according to the USCIS policies. Starting with this article, a series of upcoming articles will get facts straight regarding your H-1B visa application.

H-1B visa is not issued under a certain limit unless your background satisfies some qualifications. Since USCIS sets an annual limit to allow foreigners to work in the U.S, get to know the specifics of the cap designated by USCIS and which USCIS case tracker to use for your case status.

Regular Cap vs. Advanced Degree Exemption

Annually, the regular cap of 65,000 H-1B visas are granted to foreign workers who may start work from October 1. USCIS uses the information of petitioners provided during the electronic registration process to determine if a petition is subject to the regular cap or the advanced degree exemption.

The advanced degree exemption is an exemption from the H-1B cap for beneficiaries who have earned a U.S. master’s degree or higher and is available until the number of beneficiaries who are exempt on this basis exceeds 20,000. In other words, even if you with a master's degree didn't fall under the exemption limit of 20,000, you still have another chance to get selected from a regular cap. USCIS also allows cap exemptions based on different backgrounds as below.

Other Cap Exemptions

Not all H-1B nonimmigrant visas are subject to this annual cap . Up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the 65,000 each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore free trade agreements. Unused visas in this group become available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year. H-1B workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam may also be exempt from the H-1B cap. H-1B workers in Guam and the CNMI are exempt from the H-1B cap if their employers file the petition before Dec. 31, 2029.

Universities and related nonprofit entities, nonprofit research organizations and government research organizations are exempt from the cap. These employers are able to submit an H-1B application to the USCIS at any time during the year without concern for the fiscal year limit. However, a person who works for an H-1B cap-exempt employer who changes jobs to an employer that is not exempt may become subject to the H-1B cap. These employers include:

Institutions of Higher Education or Affiliated Entities; and

Non-profit organizations associated with a government entity or an institute higher education.

Take a look at the link if you want to learn more about this H-1B cap.

How to Track Your Case

Lawfully came up with a ground-breaking solution to help all immigrants and non-immigrants learn what is going on with their applications. That is why Lawfully has launched USCIS Case Tracker. Since then, we have tirelessly improved its features with a firm commitment to immigration equality.

With a very small fraction of cost and time it would have taken to struggle with immigration attorneys and USCIS, give yourself 3 minutes to fill in the information about your application. You can check your case status along with an expected processing time and compare yours with other similar cases at your fingertips. No need to check in on the USCIS website anymore. Lawfully will deliver updates on your case status in real-time.

If you want to get more insights from a certain visa type, try Case Analysis Pro, and among other features, see your ranking among others who registered their cases so that you get the sense of where you stand.

Download Lawfully Case Tracker now and stay up to date!