H-1B Cap for 2018 reached within 5 days

The United States (USCISUS) Citizenship and Immigration Services announced April 6 that it has reached the Congressionally-mandated 65,000 visa cap for H-1B high skilled work visa applications, as well as the 20,000 “Master’s exemption” for those with U.S. advanced degrees, five days after it began accepting applications.

The agency did not announce how many applications it had received overall for fiscal year 2019; it will now assign the highly-coveted visa – allotted to highly-skilled workers, primarily from India – via a randomized lottery.

In its announcement, USCIS stated that it will 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.

USCIS said it will also continue to accept and process petitions filed to: Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the U.S.; Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers; Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.

Fewer India-based companies are filing for work-based visas. Data released by the Department of Labor shows a dramatic dip in the number of H-1B visa applications from Indian companies in 2017. Infosys, the largest user of the program, had filed 33,245 H-1B applications in 2015, but filed only 20,587 in 2017, a drop of more than 38 percent, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. Also significant was Wipro, which filed 12,201 H-1B applications in 2015, but only 5,812 in 2017, a 52 percent drop.

Conversely, Google, the largest U.S. user of the visa program, filed about 4,000 H-1B applications in 2015, and 5,288 in 2017, a jump of 30 percent. Facebook had a 71 percent increase in the number of applications, filing about 1,000 in 2015, and more than 1,700 in 2017. Tesla has tripled its H-1B workforce over the past three years, filing 971 applications in 2017. Uber doubled its H-1B workforce during that same time period, filing 732 applications in 2017.

Shivendra Singh, vice president for global trade development at the National Association of Software and Services Companies – NASSCOM – released a statement April 6, noting: “America’s economy is crying out for more skilled talent, especially in the IT sector. The large number of applications and the speed with which the annual cap is reached demonstrate the high demand for these workers.”

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