USCIS has issued a press release indicating that it has reached the cap of 65,000 for H-1B visas for the 2014 fiscal year. In fact, there were about 124,000 applications filed within only one week of the filing period. In addition, USCIS states that it has received about 20,000 applications from persons who hold advanced degrees and are thus exempt from the cap.
H-1B visas are used by U.S. employers to bring in employees with specialized occupations and skills. Normally, the employer requires a bachelor's degree or its equivalent for these positions. Positions falling under the H-1B category require specialized and complex knowledge, and the employer is required to submit a Labor Condition Application along with the petition. The H-1B visa covers, but is not limited to, professionals such as engineers, scientists and computer programmers.
USCIS uses a computer-generated process, often called a lottery, to randomly choose the 65,000 applicants who will receive the H-1B visas each year. In addition, USCIS will continue to accept applications for H-1B applicants who are exempt from the cap, and will continue to process applications from current H-1B workers applying to change employers, change the terms of employment, work concurrently within a second H-1B position, or extend the time frame of their visa.
As Congress considers Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the next few weeks, it would be wise to reconsider the number of work visas available based on the realistic demand for immigrant labor and expertise. Immigrant workers and professionals are a boon to the U.S. economy, and actually help create jobs for U.S. citizens.
For more information about H-1B visas, as well as other work and family-based visas, please contact the Law Offices of Matthew H. Green.