The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ruled that guest workers seeking a H-1B visa based on their advanced degree must have earned their degrees from colleges that were accredited when they received their degree. This will stop the loophole that allows foreign workers to easily obtain an advanced degree from “diploma mills” in order to be eligible for a H-1B visa.
Federal law limits the number of H-1B visas to 65,000 per year but 20,000 additional H-1B visas awarded to those with graduate degrees.
The original case was brought on behalf of a foreign worker with a master’s degree from International Technological University in California whose H-1B visa application had been denied because the college was not accredited when he earned his degree.
“First, requiring beneficiaries to earn their degrees from institutions that, at a minimum, are pre-accredited at the time the degree is earned helps ensure the quality of education necessary to merit a Master’s Cap exemption,” the board decision states.
The ruling was made but only applied to one case in Dec. 2013. On Wednesday, the appeals board applied the precedent to all future cases.
“It’s important in immigration law to define everything,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies. “It’s not hard to imagine that if this decision had gone the other way, there would be back-of-the-matchbox diploma mills springing up.”
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Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 11:51am EDT