The Cap

Authorized statutorily by Congress, the H-1B cap sets a limit on the number of these visas that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can issue to foreign workers every fiscal year. (A fiscal year runs from October 1 of one year to September 30 of the following year.)

There are actually two quotas encompassed in the H-1B cap: the regular cap comprising beneficiaries with bachelor’s degrees, and the “master’s cap,” which is reserved for beneficiaries with at least a master’s degree from a U.S. school. The numerical limit for regular H-1B petitions is 65,000 visas annually, while the master’s cap reserves an additional 20,000 H-1B visas per year.

Within the regular cap, a maximum of 6,800 visas is set aside for beneficiaries eligible for a subtype of the H-1B visa, the H-1B1. This subcategory is reserved for alien workers from Chile and Singapore, as stipulated in free trade agreements between the U.S. and those countries. Any unused H-1B1 visas are factored back into the regular cap.