Employment Immigration

I heard the H-1B cap was met for 2016. What does this mean?

On April 7th, 2015, USCIS completed its H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for H-1B visas. The H-1B visa allows certain foreign national workers holding a bachelor’s degree to be temporarily employed in the US. The employer applies for the visa on behalf of the foreign national, and employment based on the H-1B visa is limited to the sponsoring employer.

H-1B visas are capped at 65,000 with an additional 20,000 given to applicants with a master’s degree. Because the number of applicants exceeds 85,000, USCIS uses a lottery system to select petitions to approve. If approved, the employee can begin work as soon as October 1st, and USCIS returns filing fees for those not selected in the lottery. During the last 3 years, the number of H-1B applicants has been rising quickly. Here’s a breakdown of recent number of applicants for the last 3 years:

  • Fiscal Year 2016
    • 233,000 H-1B applications received
    • 85,000 awarded (20,000 for master’s degree holders)
  • 1 year ago
    • 172,500 H-1B applications received
    • 85,000 awarded (20,000 for master’s degree holders)
  • 2 years ago
    • 124,000 H-1B applications received
    • 85,000 awarded (20,000 for master’s degree holders)

For the many qualified H-1B applicants who don’t receive a visa in the lottery, there may be other options for living or working in US. Certain educational and non-profit employers can file cap-exempt H-1B petitions. Also, some foreign nationals may be eligible for another employment-based or family-based immigration path. Talk with an experienced immigration attorney to review your options.


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