U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting H-1B petitions subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2015 cap on April 1, 2014.

HIGH DEMAND FOR H-1B VISAS

The congressionally mandated cap on H-1B visas for 2015 is 65,000. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.  USCIS expects to receive enough petitions to fill the cap by April 7, 2014.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has received several reports from members who, upon inquiring about the status of their FedEx delivery, have been informed of delivery problems. AILA has reported the specific problems to USCIS headquarters. USCIS officials are investigating the situation and will report back as soon as possible.

Last year, USCIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 7, 2013, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a “lottery”) to select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS rejected and returned the petition with filing fees.  USCIS is expected to use a similar approach this year.

Demand for H-1B visas has exceeded the annual cap every year since 2004. Last year, USCIS announced that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the cap for FY 2014 on April 5—five days after it began accepting petitions. Although the pace at which employers filed petitions […]