Small H1B Change May Mean Big Help For Those With Advanced Degrees

As we’ve written a few times on the challenging, ever-evolving H1B Visa process for employers and international candidates, a minor but interesting change to the program has occurred that’s worthy of you to be aware of if you hire people from that program.

There are two types of H1B Visas:

There are 20,000 visas for people with master’s degrees and PhD’s from U.S. universities (MS/PhDs). In addition, there are 65,000 visas for people who do not have master’s degrees or PhD’s from U.S. universities. These visas are open to the rest of the field.

In the past, if you happened to have a master’s degree or PhD from a U.S. institution, you participated in the 20,000 process first. Those who qualified but were not chosen in the first lottery had their applications thrown into a big pot with the remainder of the applications and there was a follow up lottery to draw from 65,000 available “regular” visa applications.

Once the lotteries were run, those who got into the lottery were evaluated for accuracy. But the presumption was that everybody who applied was going to get their H1B Visa.

The “minor change” introduced by the administration is a change to the order in which pools are processed. Now the first pool is going to be the general pool. After that, if there are any people with master’s degrees and PhD’s from US schools who did not get picked in the lottery, they move on to a second lottery only open to them. This also depends on how many applications there are of both kinds – such as master’s and PhDs or non-master’s and non-PhD’s.

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For example, let’s say that there are 50,000 people with master’s/PhD’s and 100,000 people without who are in the overall pool.

In the new system we would expect that 50/150 = 33% of MS/PhDs, around 21,666, will be selected in the first round. The remaining 28,334 MS/PhDs will participate in the 2nd round resulting in 20,000 more selected. Overall 41,666 MS/PhDs will be selected.

Using the same assumptions, in the prior system, 20,000 of MS/PhDs are selected in the first round and 130,000 would participate in the 2nd round resulting in 30/150 * 65,000 = 13,000 more MS/PhDs selected for the total of 33,000. As you can see given these initial assumptions the MS/PhD group getting H1B will grow by 8,666 (from 33,000 to 41,666) or by 26%.


Our clients are probably more likely today to be more willing to sponsor somebody with a master’s degree or PhD from a U.S. institution. So my expectation is that there might be some increase in the number of people with an advanced education who will be getting their H1B. Once they get their H1Bs, a number of our clients may be interested in these people and the process of transferring H1Bs will be relatively shorter and easier than getting an H1B in the first place.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this update to the process in the months to come in terms of those who won the lottery. Then people can start working after October 1 when their Visas officially kick in.

No matter what process is right for you, whether it involves navigating the H1B route or not, the very best first step for a solid recruitment strategy is to talk to Talman first. We’ll discuss your hiring goals and the type of candidate you’re seeking to make an immediate impact in your environment. With over 30 years of experience and a vast network, our team at Roy Talman & Associates may be already well connected to just the special technical talent you’re looking for.