USCIS Reaches H-1B Cap for Fiscal Year 2017

On April 7, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it received sufficient H-1B petitions to meet the regular and advanced degree caps for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.

On April 1, 2016, USCIS began accepting petitions from U.S. Employers requesting that it approve highly skilled professional foreign national workers for temporary employment commencing on October 1, 2016. Under the annual limits on H-1B visas set by Congress, USCIS may issue on 65,000 H-1B approvals for foreign national employees with a Bachelor’s Degree (or its equivalent) and 20,000 additional H-1B approvals for foreign nationals who possess a U.S. Master’s Degree or higher.

Although USCIS has not yet announced how many H-1B petitions were received this week, during the first five (5) business days of filing (April 1 – April 7, 2016), USCIS received sufficient petitions to meet and presumably exceed the cap.

This is the fourth consecutive year that USCIS has received the maximum number of petitions in the first week of filing. USCIS received over 150,000 H-1B petitions during the first week of filing for FY 2015 and more than 230,000 petitions during the first week for FY 2016. While we do not yet know the number of petitions received this year, it is clear that the demand for H-1B workers greatly exceeds the available under the cap.

In the coming weeks, USCIS will conduct a computer-generated lottery in which it will randomly select the 20,000 cases for review under the advanced degree cap and then the 65,000 cases under the regular cap for review and decision. Petitions that are not selected in the lottery will be returned to employers along with the filing fees. USCIS has not yet announced when the lottery will occur.

U.S. employers will again be faced with a dearth of qualified professional workers for highly skilled positions within their companies, limiting companies’ ability to succeed and grow in the United States. In order to alleviate this problem, Congress should increase the annual limitations on H-1B visas and let the market dictate the number of highly skilled temporary workers necessary for the U.S. economy.

For more information on the H-1B visa and status for highly skilled temporary workers or the H-1B annual cap, contact Kolko & Associates, P.C.