Applying for an H1B Visa Before Graduation

H-1B petitions must be submitted to the USCIS on April 1st. In the very likely event that the number of applications exceeds the 65,000 (plus 20,000 U.S. master’s cap) quota, the USCIS will draw from all application received from April 1st through the first 5 business days.

Many graduates will have completed the coursework towards their bachelor’s or post-graduate degree before April 1st, but will not have received their diploma because the graduation ceremony is not until June. The question is: Can these individuals still qualify for an H-1B? The answer is yes.

U.S. employers who intend to file an H-1B petition for a foreign worker on April 1st may still do so even if the worker has not graduated or received their diploma, so long as he/she has completed all of the coursework towards the degree. In these cases, the foreign worker should contact the school and ask for an official transcript as well as a letter from the school confirming that all coursework has been satisfactorily completed and that he/she is eligible for a bachelor’s/graduate degree.

While this may not be the ideal situation, at least the USCIS will have sufficient evidence that demonstrates that the beneficiary possesses the requisite education to qualify for an H-1B visa. At the very least, the USCIS could issue a request for evidence asking for further proof of meeting the education criteria – at which point the beneficiary will hopefully have an official transcript or the diploma.

Conclusion: So long as the coursework towards a bachelor’s or master’s degree has been completed by April 1st, an H-1B petition should meet the education criteria during USCIS adjudication.