Employment Immigration, H-1b

H-1b cap completed for 2017

236,000 apply for H-1b visas, about 1 in 3 will be approved

On April 7th, 2016, USCIS announced it had completed the H-1b cap random selection process. The H-1b visa allows certain foreign national workers holding a bachelor’s or higher-level degree or  to be temporarily employed in the US. Employers apply for the visa on behalf of foreign national employees, and the visa allows the employee to work for that employer.

H-1b visas are capped at 65,000 plus an additional 20,000 for applicants with US master’s degrees. As the number of applicants usually exceeds 85,000, USCIS uses a lottery system to select petitions to approve. This year USCIS received 236,000 applications for H-1b visas, so only about 1 in 3 will be approved. The number of applicants only increased a small amount from last year, as shown in the table below.

Employees with approved H-1b visas can begin work as soon as October 1st, and USCIS returns filing fees for those not selected in the lottery. The number of H-1b visas applicants increased again this year. Here’s how this year’s numbers compare with previous years:

  • Fiscal Year 2017 (Current numbers)
    • 236,000 H-1b applications received
    • 85,000 will be awarded just like previous years (including 20,000 given to master’s degree holders)
  • FY 2016
    • 233,000 H-1b applications received
  • FY 2015
    • 172,500 H-1b applications received
  • FY 2014
    • 124,000 H-1b applications received

Some qualified H-1b applicants who don’t receive a visa in the lottery may have other options for living or working in the US. Contact an experienced immigration attorney to review options.

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