Coming to the United States on an H-1B visa can be challenging. Even if a person meets the qualifications based on their education and specialized knowledge and skills, approval of the visa may still be delayed as a result of the annual cap on H-1B visas that is enforced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, some H-1B applicants qualify for exemptions that can expedite the process. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you understand whether one of these exemptions may apply in your case and ensure that you take the necessary steps to benefit from it.
As of 2021, the annual cap on H-1B visas is 65,000, meaning that if applications are filed on behalf of more than 65,000 people within a fiscal year, many of those applications may be denied, or at least delayed to the following year. However, there is an exemption available if the beneficiary of the application has an advanced degree, meaning a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution in a field relevant to the qualifications for the position in which the beneficiary would be working. An additional 20,000 visas are available for people who qualify for this advanced degree exemption, raising the total amount of annual H-1B visas that may be approved to 85,000.
Additionally, certain kinds of employers are exempt from the cap entirely, meaning that their applications may be approved regardless of how many H-1B visas have already been granted in the year the application is filed. These employers include institutions of higher learning, like colleges and universities, as well as nonprofit and government research organizations.
As with all H-1B applications, those pursuing an exemption should be sure to file form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, within six months of the beneficiary’s intended start date. They should also clearly indicate on the form the exemption for which they qualify, and in the case of an advanced degree exemption, include evidence of the beneficiary’s educational history.
At Mevorah Law Offices LLC, we can help employers and potential employees with the process of filing and obtaining approval for an H-1B visa, including in special cases in which an exemption may apply. We strive to achieve an outcome in which you are able to begin your professional relationship in the United States as soon as possible. Contact an Illinois immigration lawyer at 630-755-6426 for a free initial consultation to learn how we can assist with your situation.
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