Most H-1B applicants qualify through a BA or higher degree, and this requirement must be met as of the day of filing. This year, H1B applications will be accepted from April 2, 2018 – April 6, 2018. The fact that you will have your degree by the time you actually start the job in October is irrelevant. USCIS will want to see that you already have your degree on the day you file the application. Students who still have most of their OPT left to use after graduation typically opt to work on OPT and try for an H1B the following year.
For students who have already used up all or most of their OPT before graduation, however, this may not be an option. This situation can be very frustrating for H-1B hopefuls scheduled to graduate mere weeks after USCIS stops accepting applications, but there are several ways in which it may be overcome:
Have you had at least a year and a half of high-level work experience in your specialty? If so, you may be able to use your work experience to make up for your final semester of education. See my previous post on using work experience to fill gaps in education in order to qualify for an H-1B. (Note that this route cannot be used for those hoping to apply as higher-degree holders under the Master’s Cap.)
Have you completed all of the course work for your degree? Maybe you already completed the coursework actually needed to graduate during the Fall semester but haven’t graduated yet because you are taking a few more classes in the Spring for additional training. Or maybe you have actually completed all the coursework and exams for Spring semester, but your university does not officially hold graduation until a later date. In this situation, USCIS may be willing to accept your application if you submit letters from a school official or third party credentials evaluator confirming that you have indeed completed all requirements for the degree, even if you haven’t officially received your diploma yet. This route can be used by Masters Cap and the general pool alike.
Does your program grant course credit for “life experience?” Many academic programs are starting to grant limited amounts of course credit for prior work experience, and USCIS recognizes these credits. If your program does this and you haven’t yet taken advantage of it, it might be worth checking into if the extra credits would push you over what you need to complete your course of study, as described above, even if you haven’t yet officially graduated.
If you have general questions on this topic, please leave a comment on this post and I will try to respond. Please note that I cannot respond to questions regarding the specific facts of your case on this blog. For specific case questions, I would be happy to discuss with you over the phone or Skype! You can schedule a consultation here.