Should the H-1B Annual Cap Be Increased?

The Shapiro Law Group

The H-1B visa is a common immigration tool for hiring highly-skilled foreign nationals. Under the H-1 visa program, foreign workers who are employed by U.S. companies in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers, can become authorized to live and work in the U.S.

There are certain drawbacks to the H-1B visa program, however, most notably its strict quota caps. As we recently reported, the 2015 H-1B visa quota was met quickly, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announcing on April 7 – just 6 days after the application period opened – that it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year 2015, and that it had received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption.

Not only had the quota limit been met, but it was far surpassed. In fact, USCIS reported that it received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions during the filing period which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. Because the quota limit was met, on April 10, 2014, USCIS completed a computer-generated random selection process to select those petitions that would be used to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and 20,000 advanced degree exemption cap. Unfortunately, those petitions that were not randomly selected were rejected.

Given that the H-1B cap is often met quickly, many people question whether the quota limit should be increased. Although skeptics fear that an increase in the H-1B visa quota would eliminate jobs for U.S. citizens, an increase in the H-1B visa quota could help the U.S. economy and create jobs for U.S. citizens. Many of the rejected H-1B visa petitions are filed by U.S. employers on behalf of foreign nationals who were educated in the U.S. while on a student visa, and a 2012 report found that every foreign-born student who graduates with an advanced degree from a U.S. university and stays in the country to work in a job in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (a STEM field) creates on average 2.62 jobs for U.S. workers. Unfortunately, due to the limited number of H-1B visas available, many of these foreign-born U.S. graduates are forced to leave the U.S.

Contact an Employment Immigration Lawyer

The business immigration lawyers at Shapiro Law Group are dedicated to helping U.S. businesses hire and retain the necessary employees, including highly-skilled foreign nationals. We routinely assist employers with the completion and submission of H-1B visa petitions, as well as a number of other work visa and permanent residency petitions. If your H-1B visa petition was not selected through the lottery and is not exempt from the cap, there may be other employment immigration options available for you and your foreign national employees, and we can guide you through these options.

The employment immigration attorneys at The Shapiro Law Group have more than 30 years of experience helping clients in Chicago and around the country with their visa and immigration needs. We are familiar with the H-1B visa requirements and application process, as well as a number of other work visa options. Contact us at (847) 564-0712 to discuss your visa needs with one of our employment immigration lawyers.