The foreign workers who are not able to get an H1b visa because of the yearly cap can apply to cap-exempt h1B jobs such as nonprofit entities.

You have to understand which institutions come under nonprofit, and is it even worth applying for those jobs. This article will discuss H1b cap-exempt jobs in nonprofit entities.

What is H1b Cap Exempt?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues 85,000 h1b visas every year. This includes 20,000 H1b visas for individuals holding a master’s or higher degree.

However, this annual cap is not taken into account for certain H1b sponsors.

This means that the H1b beneficiaries who are petitioned by the cap-exempt employers do not need to worry about surpassing the annual limits of the visa.

What are jobs in H1b cap exempt?

What are jobs in H1b cap exempt?

Though most US employees are subject to the H1B annual cap, however, the following institutions can sponsor an H1b employee without being subject to the numeric cap:

  • Institutions of higher education
  • Non-profit or government research organizations
  • Non-profit entities affiliated with or related to Institutions of higher education

Institutions of higher education

To be eligible as an institution of higher education, the organization should meet the following conditions:

  • Should only admit students who have a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education
  • Should be legally authorized within such State to provide a program of education beyond secondary education
  • It should be either public or a non-profit organization.
  • Should have a proper license to provide education beyond higher education.
  • Should award either a bachelor’s degree for its educational programs or awards a degree that is acceptable to take admission to a graduate or professional degree program. If the institution does not provide a bachelor’s degree, it should provide a minimum of a two-year program that is an acceptable education accreditation for such a degree.

You can check with the institution you are applying for an H1b job if they meet the mandatory criteria.

Requirements for an institution to be considered a non-profit

The regulations define non-profit as:

  • Which is defined as a tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code, 1986, section 501(c)(3), (c)(4) or (c)(6), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), (c)(4) or (c)(6)
  • Which is exempted from paying taxes for research or educational purposes by the Internal Revenue Service

Non-profit entities affiliated or related to the institution of higher education.

An organization for the purposes of H1b cap-exempt is considered as an affiliated or related non-profit entity


  • It is either associated with the institution of higher education or should be a non-profit entity doing research. For example, it does not be taking commissions to make a profit from work.
  • A non-profit organization is associated with the institution either by shared board control or ownership.
  • The organization is acting as a branch, member, or subsidiary.

Nonprofit research organization

For an organization to be a nonprofit research organization, it should primarily be engaged in either basic research and/or applied research.

Basic research

Basic research is general research that aims to get a better understanding of the subject under study without a specific application of mind. The basic research may not have a specific commercial objective.

Applied research

Applied research is a more comprehensive research and applied mind to gain a specified objective or determine the means by which a specific, recognized need may be met. Applied research includes such investigations oriented to discovering new knowledge that has a specific commercial objective with respect to products, processes, or services.

Both basic research and applied research may include research and investigation in the sciences, social sciences, or humanities. The difference is that basic research is not commercially oriented, while applied research is for commercial objectives.

If you work in any of these categories, your job is entitled to come under the H1b cap exemption.

How to tell whether an institution is a nonprofit?

Usually, an institution with affiliation or related to an institution of higher education is considered a nonprofit. However, it is not always the case; it can be considered a good rule of thumb to consider such affiliations or relations as criteria for being a nonprofit.

There is a narrow construction of determining an institution’s cap-exempt status as a nonprofit. For example – many nonprofits such as policy and art organizations or nonprofit services that do not have an affiliation with a university do not qualify for an exemption for H 1b cap-exempt.

Some of the factors that can be considered while determining nonprofit status are:

  • Whether the employer is primarily engaged with research
  • Affiliation or relation to a university
  • Whether the institution gets a tax exception for research or educational purposes
  • Whether the institution comes under the definition of nonprofit as defined under the Internal Revenue Code, 1986, section 501(c)(3), (c)(4) or (c)(6), 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), (c)(4) or (c)(6)

A scenario to make you understand better

A nonprofit firm that works in conducting research on women’s rights in this contemporary world. They are affiliated with a university (a higher education institution) to conduct research for university projects. They sponsor an H1b petition for Harry to come and do research for a university project, “Rights of women at workplace.” It is very probable that they will come under the cap-exempt employer’s category, and Harry can work in the US on H 1b cap-exempt visas.

H1b Jobs for Nonprofit Institutions

You might be wondering whether it is difficult to find jobs in nonprofit entities. It totally depends on your approach.

It is true that the number of H1b jobs in nonprofits is less than the number of jobs in the nonexempt category.

Therefore the whole process can be tedious, but if you follow the right approach, you could land a job in a nonprofit entity where the cap-exempt employer is ready to sponsor you.

Aside from your usual job search techniques, specific websites are dedicated to nonprofit job openings, which will help you get closer to your objective of securing a h 1b cap-exempt job.

For example – you can search for cap-exempt jobs at myvisajobs, where you can find a list of h 1b cap-exempt employers.

If you’re unsure whether a job qualifies as cap-exempt, you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney to get more clearer picture to make a choice.

Advantages of applying H1b visa to nonprofit organizations under cap exempt

Advantages of applying H1b visa to nonprofit organizations

There are many professional jobs available under cap-exempt employment which you can take benefits as a foreign applicant. If you don’t qualify for the usual H1B annual quota, you can look into nonprofit positions that are related to your job qualifications.

To make you understand better, suppose a software researcher at a regular information technology company requires an H1B visa to work at the company;

However, suppose he misses his chance to be selected in the lottery for a particular financial year, he can still apply for a similar position at a nonprofit research organization that is subject to annual cap-exempt.

Overall, working in a nonprofit organization, there are the following advantages:

  • You can apply for an H1b visa even after you do not qualify for the annual quota.
  • You can add the work experience to your resume instead of waiting for the next year to apply.
  • When you are in the United States, you can transfer your H1b visa to other h1B employers if they are offering to sponsor you, and you are lucky to get selected in the lottery next year.
  • Even if the related work in a nonprofit organization is a little different as you would have done in a company, however, at least you are doing work in your domain area. For example – if you are a software engineer and your job role involves coding. However, you get a job in a nonprofit entity’s research or education mission. You may work in the research department rather than working more practically. Nevertheless, you are working in your own domain.

You should appreciate that a cap-exempt employer is ready to sponsor your H1b visa because it is never a sure thing that if you wait and apply for an H1b visa next year, you will get it. So, grab the opportunity in your hands and explore better job opportunities while in the US.

Disadvantages of having a nonprofit H1b visa?

While you have seen many upsides of taking a job from a cap-exempt employer under a nonprofit institution, however, there is one downside to the whole process.

Once you get a job in a nonprofit entity, you are good to work in that entity for 6 years provided that your extended H1b petition gets approved.

Your basis of an entry in the US is through getting a sponsorship from a qualified nonprofit institution. You may not be able to change jobs easily unless you find other cap-exempt nonprofit entities willing to sponsor you.

What if I want to change jobs to other normal H1b employers that run for profit? If you want to switch jobs to ‘normal’ for-profit employers, your employer has to file an H1B petition for you in the next year, and if your application gets selected in the lottery, then only you will be able to change your H1b job.

For example – If you are teaching software engineering to others in a nonprofit organization and you want to switch to normal software engineering jobs, your petitioning employer has to file an h1b petition, and if you are lucky to get selected, you can change to normal engineering jobs in an IT company.

How can Herman Legal Group help you?

Herman Legal Group provides legal services in American immigration law. We help our clients to get their H1b status on both cap exemption jobs and normal H1b jobs.

We strictly maintain attorney-client relationships and provide comprehensive immigration services, including online and offline consultation. You can consult our immigration attorney to discuss your immigration case, and they will provide you best course of action for your case.

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