United States businesses who are in need of workers with specialty skills often face quite a dilemma due to the shortage of qualified American workers in certain fields. Many of these businesses turn to the H-1B Visa program as an effective solution. The H-1B Visa program enables U.S. companies to employ foreign workers who are experienced or trained in select H-1B Visa occupations to help satisfy their demand.
Currently, however, the United States has set a cap on the number of skilled foreign worker who can receive H-1B Visas. The cap allows a mere 65,000 foreign workers with specialty skills to obtain H-1B Visas, with an additional 20,000 H-1B Visas that are set aside for foreign workers with U.S. Master’s Degrees or above. With the cap period for fiscal year 2017 quickly approaching, many employers and foreign workers are beginning to feel the time crunch. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting petitions April 1, 2016. Throughout the past five years, demand for H-1B visas has become so high that the USCIS has received enough petitions to reach the caps within five days.
Fortunately, such a massive influx in petitions has caused a lottery system to be implemented to enable a more fair selection process. Once the allotted filing period has ended, the petitions received will be placed in a lottery. Those that qualify for the Master’s cap are to be selected first. After the initial 20,000 beneficiaries are selected, those eligible for the Master’s cap that were not selected will be added to the remaining petitions, where another 65,000 beneficiaries will be chosen. In FY 2016, there were more than 233,000 petitions received by the USCIS, which would give petitioners about a 1 in 4 chance of acceptance. Thankfully, those who are not accepted still have a multitude of options available to them, and they can always wait and try again in the upcoming year.
There are a number of reasons for the upward trend in H-1B Visa Filings.
- Demand for qualified workers in the United States
- International employees often provide a new-world view, which drives innovation
- Recent denials for L-1 Visas has left employers and foreign workers alike to explore other avenues
- The ability to extend non-immigrant status while pursuing a Green Card is attractive to both employers and skilled foreign workers