H-1B Visa Cap to Increase as part of Immigration Reform 2013

One of the primary purposes of The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act is to raise the current limit on H-1B visas.

The H-1B visa is designed for highly-skilled foreign nationals who work in specialty occupations, foreign nationals who can perform jobs of exceptional merit and ability for the Department of Defense (DOD) and foreign nationals of distinguished merit or ability as fashion models.

H-1B cap

The USCIS currently sets the H-1B limit, or cap, at 65,000 per year. There is an exemption in place that allocates an extra 20,000 visas for foreign nationals with U.S. advance degrees.

This would change with the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.

The act would raise the yearly cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 110,000. It would raise the 20,000 exemption to 25,000, allocating it only to advanced degree graduates in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The proposal includes the possibility of raising the cap to 180,000. This would be determined through a “High Skilled Jobs Demand Index,” which would plug into a formula the percentages of approved petitions in one year. Depending on the calculations, the cap would then be raised by no more than 10,000 H-1b visas per year.

Other parts of the proposal:

  • By requiring employers to pay significantly higher wages to H-1B workers than those required under the current laws, employers would be less likely to pay lower wages to American workers. Employers would be required to advertise the job to American workers at the high wage before making the job available to an H-1B worker.
  • Recruitment of American workers prior to the recruitment of H-1B workers would be a requirement. The Secretary of Labor would establish a searchable website for postings on H-1B positions, but the jobs would have to have been available to American workers for at least 30 calendar days prior.
  • Employers would not be allowed to recruit or give preference to H-1B workers over American workers.
  • Employers who depend on the work of H-1B workers would pay significantly higher wages and fees than employers who hire a smaller percentage of H-1B workers.
  • The spouses of H-1B workers would be able to get a work authorization if their countries are willing to provide the same for American workers’ spouses there.
  • There would be a 60-day transition period for H-1B workers changing employment.
  • Students who come to the U.S. for bachelor’s degrees would have dual intent visas.


More on Immigration Reform:

  • Immigration Reform 2013
  • Gang of 8
  • Earned Citizenship
  • Streamlining Immigration
  • Strengthening Border Security
  • More Accountability for Employers Hiring Undocumented Immigrants

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