USCIS reaches cap for 2018 H-1B Visas

USCIS reaches cap for 2018 H-1B Visas

On April 7, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that they reached the congressionally mandated 65,000 cap for H-1B Visas for the fiscal year 2018. In addition, USCIS has received “a sufficient number of H-1B petitions” to meet the 20,000 Visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

H-1B is an annual visa lottery for high-skilled immigrant workers. Only 65,000 visas are available for immigrants with undergraduate degrees. There are another 20,000 visas available for those with graduate degrees from U.S. colleges and universities. As reported by news media, this represents just “0.0004 percent of the 160 million Americans who make up the nation’s workforce.”

What does this mean and how might it affect you?

USCIS will not be accepting additional H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2018 except for cap-exempt petitions. Exemption from the cap limitations include H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education (or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities), a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap. For all others, the new petition filing period will open on April 1 of next year.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration revealed that it also would pause premium processing for H-1B Visas this season (which normally begins in April). This has left foreign employees and those that employ them in a legal purgatory – waiting. In prior years, premium processing for an extra fee to USCIS would be completed within 15 days. Now legal immigrants and their U.S. employers must wait months to know whether they can start their jobs on October 1, 2017.

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