For the fifth consecutive year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the congressionally mandated H-1B visa cap of 65,000 just five days after the agency began accepting applications on April 7. The agency also reports it has received enough petitions to fill the additional cap of 20,000 designated for advanced-degree applicants to the H-1B program– known as the master’s cap.The H-1B visa program is specifically designed to let U.S. businesses employ highly-skilled foreign workers in specialized positions.
According to FWD.us, a Silicon Valley organization founded by Mark Zuckerberg and other heavy hitters in the high-tech industry, around 70 percent of applicants to the H-1B lottery are ultimately rejected from the program because of the cap, “keeping thousands of the best and brightest high-skilled immigrants from around the world out of the U.S. workforce.”
For those petitions subject to the cap and that USCIS rejects, the agency will return associated fees in cases where petitioners haven’t filed duplicate applications.
In its release on reaching the H-1B cap, USCIS reports it will continue accepting and processing petitions that are exempt. These petitions include those filings for current H-1B visa holders– petitioners whose applications have been previously counted against the cap, and who’ve retained their cap number– aren’t counted toward the congressionally mandated cap for the fiscal year 2018. However, the agency reminds petitioners of its current suspension of premium processing, which could last until early October.
USCIS continues to accept and process petitions for current H-1B visa holders with any of these purposes:
- Extending the amount of time a worker is allowed to remain in the United States
- Changing the terms of employment
- Allowing workers to change employers; and
- Allowing workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position
USCIS offers guidance suggesting H-1B applicants subscribe to its H-1B Cap Season email updates, which can be found at the H-1B Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Cap Season page.
In a statement on the rapid pace of reaching the cap, FWD.us President Todd Schulte says it’s clear “demand for talented high-skilled workers continue to dramatically outpace supply.” The effect of this, he says a less robust economy where the “U.S. loses out on the creation of American jobs, rising wages.”
The solution, Schulte says, is to allow USCIS to allow and to process more H-1B visas. “FWD.us continues to call on Congress to reform the H-1B visa to crack down on bad actors and to lift the arbitrary visa cap that is stifling wage and job growth for U.S. citizens.”