USCIS announced that it has received 190,098 H-1B petitions during the first five business days in April, thus marking another year in which the agency received more H-1B petitions than it can approve. Last year, USCIS received 199,000 petitions during the same filing window.
Congress mandates a cap of about 85,000 H-1B visas allowed per fiscal year. 65,000 H-1B visas are available per year for those with US bachelor’s degrees, or foreign graduate degrees. An additional 20,000 H-1B visas are available to applicants who hold a U.S. master’s degree or higher from qualifying universities.
Since USCIS received more petitions that it can approve this year, it essentially conducts two lotteries. First, it conducts the U.S. master’s cap lottery. This year USCIS received more than 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of workers who have a U.S. master’s degree from certain qualifying institutions, so those advanced degree petitions not selected in the first “master’s cap” lottery will be considered for the second general lottery, which has a 65,000-visa limit. Once the second, general lottery is complete, any petitions that were not selected will be returned with their filing fees.
Foreign employees who already hold an H-1B visa and those who are sponsored by universities and certain affiliated nonprofit organizations may be exempt from the cap.
By: Camiel Becker