USCIS Clarifies Eligibility Requirements for H-1B Master's Cap


Yesterday the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it has adopted the Administrative Appeals Office's (AAO) decision in Matter of A-T-Inc. as policy guidance for all USCIS employees. The adopted decision requires that an individual must have earned a U.S. master's degree from a school that qualified as a U.S. institution of higher education at the time the degree was earned to be eligible for the H-1B U.S. master's cap.

Each year the government issues 65,000 new H-1B visas under what is known as the H-1B cap. The Immigration and Nationality Act, however, also allows for the issuance of 20,000 additional H-1B visas to individuals who have received master's degrees from a "United States institution of higher education."

In Matter of A-T-Inc., the foreign national received his U.S. master's degree before the school received accreditation as an "institution of higher education." As such, the AAO ruled that this individual was not eligible to be counted under the H-1B U.S. master's quota because the school was not accredited at the time he earned his degree. The AAO also ruled that the petition could not be counted under the regular H-1B cap, saying, "The relevant regulation generally does not permit H-1B petitioners to claim eligibility under alternative grounds."

If you have any questions about how these developments could affect your organization, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.