On April 3, 2017, 6 months prior to the start of the government’s new fiscal year for 2018, USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions for the 65,000 annual visas subject to the annual cap (there are an additional 20,000 visas available for petitions filed for beneficiaries who obtained a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. colleges and universities; the total is really 85,000 – plus additional cap-exempt visas for those working for a university or other non-profit organization).
Five business days later, USCIS announced that it received 199,000 petitions during the filing period, exceeding the annual cap by just over 200% (but this year’s petitions were a significant drop-off from last year’s 236,000, a reduction of 15.67%).
As in past years, a lottery will be conducted by USCIS over the coming weeks to determine which U.S. companies will have their petitions adjudicated with the potential to sponsor a foreign worker as an H-1B visa beneficiary (199,000 petitions for 65,000 slots means that each petitioner has an approximate 1 in 3 chance of being selected to have their individual petition adjudicated).
In addition, the Trump Administration has made it clear that it intends to ramp-up the Government’s H-1B enforcement efforts and that it expects employers using H-1B visas for their workers to pay the prevailing wage and not to use the program to disadvantage American workers. GMLG is urging its college student clients in the U.S. on F-1 visas to consider the benefits of the EB-5 program as an alternative to H-1B.