Today, USCIS announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B visa petitions to reach the statutory cap for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2015. Moreover, USCIS also announced that it has received more than the 20,000 limit for the additional advanced degree cap. In a related posting released on April 10, 2014, USCIS announced that, in total, it had received approximately 172,500 H-1B petitions.
As in previous years where more H-1B petitions are received than there are visas available, USCIS will conduct a computer-generated lottery to select the number of petitions to meet the standard and advanced degree caps. The advanced degree cap will be processed first, and any petitions that are not accepted under the advanced degree lottery will then be considered under the randomly selected standard cap lottery. It is important to remember that USCIS will continue to process H-1B petitions that are exempt from the cap, such as individuals who have been previously counted against the cap or individuals who work for cap-exempt institutions.
The high demand for H-1B visas illustrates the need for a more flexible immigration system that allows companies to bring qualified workers to the United States. Given the increasing emphasis on the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and related professions, the H-1B visa program must be an integral part of any future immigration reform.