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H1B Cap Exempt Employers

The H1B Visa is intended for foreign professionals who are hired by U.S. employers for their skills and expertise in a specialized occupation. However, the H1B Visa has an annual cap of 65,000. Unlike the regular and advanced degree categories, the H1B cap exempt category does not have a set quota or annual limit. In this post we’ll explore the H1B exemption category as well as the cap exempt employers list and other relevant details for qualifying.   The cap typically gets filled within a few day or weeks of opening date of April 1 as there is a much higher demand for H1B visas than the quota. There are some employers who may be exempt from the H1B cap. The advantage for H1B cap exempt employers is that they are not concerned with numerical limitations or competing against larger companies for new H1Bs. H1B cap exempt employers are required to qualify as one of the following:

  1. Higher education institution
  2. Non-profit organization associated with a higher education institution
  3. Non-profit research or government organization


If you previously were on H1B status and are outside of the country, you may qualify to have an employer file a cap exempt petition for the rest of your time up to three years. However, you must be able to demonstrate that you were in status within the country in the past 6 years and have not used the entirety of your duration of status. For example, Eric Chen was employed in the United states (on H1B status) from February 15, 2003  to December 5, 2006. Would he be eligible to file for a new H1B cap exempt? He would not be eligible to because he wasn’t in status in the past six years. This means he must file in the next lottery season.

Higher Education Institution


  • Accredited university or college authorized by the state
  • Admits students high school graduates
  • Public or non-profit institution
  • Licensed to administer higher level education
  • Awards bachelor’s degree programs

The most common types of not-for-profit institutions are colleges and universities in addition to entities affiliated with medical labs, hospitals, and research units.

Non-profit organizations associated with higher education institutions


  • A non-profit entity. Non-profits that do not qualify: service, community, policy, and art organizations.
  • Associated with the institution by shared ownership or board control
  • Member, branch, or subsidiary of institution

Secondary schools are not accepted for H-1B cap exemption. The only possible opportunity would be if the school contains an affiliation agreement with the higher education institution. Click here to learn more about H-1B Cap Exempt Jobs for non-profit organizations.

Non-profit Research or Government Organization


  • Non-profit research organization 
    • Conducts basic or applied research


  • Government research organization
    • Maintains focus on conducting/promoting basic or applied research

Basic research is classified as achieving more knowledge or a comprehensive understanding of a specific area of interest. It also entails further development of existing scientific research, but not for the intention of commercial objectives. Approved areas of interest include science, social science, or humanities.

Applied research involves scientific investigations of discovering new knowledge on the basis for certain commercial objectives. Accepted research areas, as listed in basic research, are the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

H1B Cap Exempt Employers and Jobs

When individuals typically think about H1B cap exempt employers and the positions available they automatically assume that they have to be a teacher or in some collegiate role when in fact there are a wide range of departments within the universities and colleges. For example, you might find an H1B cap exempt employer seeking help in the IT department or even the finance department. What’s more, in many institutions there are medical centers which employ individuals in healthcare related fields. To learn more about this option, consult one of our attorneys regarding H1B cap exempt employers.

USCIS Clarifications Regarding Cap Exemptions

In recent years, due to some confusion regarding the meaning of “cap exempt” employers, USCIS issued further clarification. They have made it clear that foreign workers who are not directly employed by a qualifying institution are still exempt from the H-1B cap assuming that they can prove their employment supports or promotes the objectives of a cap-exempt qualifying institution. Showing this type of connection may be difficult for more complex cases.

Finding the Right H1B Cap Exempt Employers

Locating suitable H1B cap exempt employers based on your skill set doesn’t have to be challenging if you know where to search. There are a number of online databases dedicated exclusively to H1B sponsored jobs and H1B cap exempt employer lists.

In the process of searching, however, be wary of organizations that are not specifically on the H1B cap exempt employers list or a related subgroup. For instance, an organization must be designated the relevant tax provision for it to technically be considered a nonprofit organization. Merely claiming to be does not  it itself suffice to be on the cap exempt employers list or otherwise qualified.

Benefits of Cap-Exempt Filing

There are a number of benefits to gain from cap-exempt filing. If it’s the first H1B visa you’re trying to obtain, this is a great option because you won’t be limited by the quota or any predetermined deadlines. What’s more, you maintain the option to transfer to a new employer thereafter.

Currently on H1B status? If you are on H1B status then you will not be counted towards the cap. In other words you can extend the time period you are in the country, alter the terms of your employment, file for a transfer and more.

If you plan on moving from cap-exempt to later cap-subject employment be aware that you’ll need to be in accordance with the H-1B regulations enforced for cap exempt employers list and jobs.

Recap of H1B Cap Exempt Benefits 

  • No annual limits or quota imposed
  • No predetermined filing dates
  • No predetermined employment start dates

In the past, our office has received a few inquiries as to the process or procedures when moving from a cap-exempt job to a non-cap exempt employer. A few factors must be kept in mind if you find yourself in this position. The first, is that you will be counted against the cap if you decide to make the switch. In other words, you’ll need to enter the H-1B visa lottery and hope your petition is submitted in either the regular category or advanced degree category. There is no guarantee when doing so, which means it is at your discretion and own risk of not being selected. If you decide you want to make the move after the quota has already been exhausted, then you’ll need to wait until the next valid H-1B lottery (begins in April).

Conclusion – H1B Cap Exempt Employers

It is highly advised for the foreign professional or U.S. employer to certify the employer’s qualifications under the H-1B cap exemption. The U.S. employer must qualify as one of the above categories. The H-1B cap exempt process is generally fast especially when conducted for a higher education institution. However, if the organization is not as well known, such as for many non-profit organizations, the case will take fairly more time in order to craft an in-depth analysis. Again, the cap exempt category has no annual limits or quotas imposed, no predetermined filing dates, and no predetermined employment start dates.

Contact an H1B Immigration Attorney

Our Fort Lauderdale immigration lawyers are knowledgeable in determining if you qualify as a H-1B cap exempt employer. We have completed required documentation and thoroughly understand where/how exemption should be obtained for the qualifying H-1B petitions. SGM Law Group is experienced in advising H-1B petitioners on the best strategy necessary for the opportunity of being exempt from the H-1B cap.

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