The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it has reached the Congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2019 and would conduct a lottery to decide successful applicants for the work visa popular among Indian IT professionals.
The fiscal year begins October 1, 2018.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa + that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The USCIS has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa cap for advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap, a statement said. The statement did not mention the exact number of H-1B petitions it received since April 2, when it started accepting applications for the popular work visas for highly skilled Indian professionals.
The H-1B visa has been the preferred visa for Indian IT companies, which has helped them keep costs down and gain a margin advantage over multi-national players by sending its engineers to the US.
However, IT services firms have been accused of misusing the lottery-based system, which allows for 65,000 visas for the general category and a further 20,000 to those with a US Master’s degree from an accredited institution.
The Indian industry has consistently denied this claim, and US President Donald Trump’s administration has been making it increasingly difficult for Indian IT firms to obtain H-1B visas. Most have upped local hiring in the US.
The USCIS said it “will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not prohibited multiple filings.”
The agency will however, continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.
Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the FY 2019 H-1B cap, it said.
USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States, change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers, allow current H-1B workers to change employers and allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.