Even as the immigration debate heats up in the US, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has said it has reached the mandated H1-B cap for FY17. The cap has been achieved within six days after the application process began.
USCIS in a press statement said it received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the US advanced degree exemption.
Since the number of applications has exceeded the total number of visas available, USCIS will award visas through lottery. “Before running the lottery, USCIS will complete initial intake for all filings received during the filing period, which ended (on) April 7. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process,” the statement added.
This is the fourth year that H1-B Visa cap is reached within the first five business days, indicating growing demand for the visa, popular among Indian information technology (IT) outsourcing services providers for deputing workers to clients’ locations.
This is despite the increase in fees for certain categories of H1-B and L-1 visa. USCIS had in January this year announced a fee hike of $4,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $4,500 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions. USCIS said the additional fees would apply to petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the US, with 50 per cent of the employees being in H1B or L (including L1A and L1B) non-immigrant status. According to Nasscom, this rise would cost the IT sector about $400 million.
H-1B is a non-immigrant category, which allows employers to temporarily recruit foreign workers for jobs requiring special skills such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences and biotechnology. The US issues 85,000 such visas every year and there is a provision to increase it by 20,000 for people with advanced degrees from US universities.
According to media reports, USCIS received 250,000 applications for FY17. In the last financial year, USCIS had received 233,000 petitions.