CIR contains a provision which would raise the H-1B quota from 65,000 to 110,000 immediately. It would also allow for the quota to increase by no more than 10,000 per year based on certain metrics regarding the quota usage and the unemployment rate. The maximum number or ceiling for the quota is 180,000 which would take us 7 years to reach if we were able to have the quota increase the maximum 10,000 per year.
For the Master’s exemption, CIR has changed the language to limit it to only STEM occupations as defined by the Department of Education’s Classification of Instructional Programs taxonomy within the groups for computer/information sciences and support, engineering, mathematics, statistics, and physical sciences. Further, they will increase the current exemption from 20,000 to 25,000.
If CIR is passed prior to October 1st, 2013, there is language in it that would require the current H-1B quota for FY 2014 (which just closed this month) to re-open as there are 45,000 extra regular cap visas available and an additional 5,000 Master’s cap spots as well.
By requiring the Master’s cap to apply only for STEM positions, they have effectively eliminated the ability for most non-STEM US Master’s holders to apply under that exemption. Over the last year, the USCIS has made it clear that they require the beneficiary to hold a degree in a relevant field for that position. If the position is a STEM position, then they must hold a STEM degree unless their undergraduate degree is in a relevant field. For example, a person may have a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from overseas and has received an MBA from a US Master’s program, they could qualify for a STEM position based on their undergraduate degree and file under the Master’s exemption. On the other hand, a person with a Bachelor’s in Commerce and a US MBA would have a much harder time trying to qualify for a STEM position.