Higher Education @ US

There are two types of visa – immigrant visa type & non-immigrant visa type. Immigrant visa seeker intends to enter the country intending to settle down in and/or become a citizen of the country of his/her destination rest of the life. Non-immigrant visa seeker wishes to enter the country for education, work, business, tourism etc. H-1B is a non-immigrant visa and H-1B seeker intends to work temporarily in the United States. However, visa seekers request has to be sponsored by a prospective employer in U.S.

Firms sponsoring foreign worker is regulated by the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(17)(H). The act restricts firms from employing foreign workers to substitute expensive local worker. In spirit, firm should temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations only when there are no local substitutes and its competitiveness in the market place is hurt if such skills are not provisioned.

US Government restricts the total numbers of such foreign workers entering USA every year and from which countries they come from using quota system. This is called H1B country quota. Similarly, US government has a separate quota for those foreigners who are already in USA for education and possess degrees from US Universities. This quota is called “Higher Education Quota” or simply Higher Ed quota

Since H1B is for “hiring specialized foreign workers by US firms”, the Master’s degree holders, PhD holders from US universities come under the Higher Ed Quota. Within the Higher Ed Quota, Specialized Masters & Doctoral students in areas of STEM i.e, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are much more likely to get H1B from Higher Education Quota than generalist Masters like E-MBA or MBA in General  Management.

Besides who apply and enroll into US universities individually (referred to as direct applicants), others who enroll into twinning or dual degree programs (referred to as indirect applicants) are eligible for Higher Education H-1B quota. Indirect applicants, however, have to make sure the twinning or dual degree program they are enrolling in should allow them to study at least two full semesters in USA. By this definition students visiting USA for semester abroad or enrolling in non-degree certification programs are not eligible to apply under Higher Education H-1B quota. While some of those programs look attractive in terms of lower tuition fee & cost, students miss out on an important benefit legally made available by the US government.