Last Friday, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services was literally buried in petitions under the so-called “H1B” category for skilled non-immigrant workers. The H1B visa is a highly prized visa because it can be converted to an immigrant track in the fifth year and because non-citizens can be sponsored for an citizenship track visa. This year, we had a quota of 65,000 individuals seeking to work in the US. This pool of applicants is fearlessly competitive and the US-CIS typically has more people than the cap allows for.
In addition to the 65,000 there is an additional 20,000 seats set aside for advanced degree holders who have a US graduate school degree from a state institution or a non-profit institution. This is called the “advanced degree exemption.” Foreign degrees (even with an equivalency evaluation) don’t count and what many people often don’t appreciate is neither do degrees from for-profit schools. This means that MBAs from the University of Phoenix, law degrees from the Thomas Cooley Law School, PhD’s from Capella University don’t count. Why? Because these schools are incorporated for profit. While the US-CIS didn’t historically enforce this requirement at first, they are now enforcing it. While it can be legitimately debated whether these degrees are as good as their non-profit equivalents, for immigration purposes there is no question — get your degree from a non-profit school or a state university.