Reaching the H-1B Master’s Cap Shows Need for Visa Reform


Another Cap Hit – Underscores the Need for Visa Reform

20,000 Slots Reserved for U.S. Advanced Degree Graduates Exhausted

Washington, D.C. – On July 28th, the U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, as of July 26th, it had
received enough H-1B petitions for “foreign workers who have earned a
master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education”
to meet the exemption limit of 20,000 established by Congress for
fiscal year (FY) 2007. This is on top of having reached the overall
H-1B cap of 65,000 on May 6, more than four months before the start of
the fiscal year.

U.S. companies need high-skilled, specialized workers to stay
competitive in the global marketplace. Allowing foreign-born,
U.S.-educated workers to work for a U.S. company fuels the ability of
U.S. companies to stay at the forefront of scientific research and

Both the House and Senate have introduced the Securing Knowledge
Innovation and Leadership Bill, (“SKIL Bill”, S.2691/H.R. 5744), a
measure that would provide much needed reform to the H-1B visa system.

“Passage and enactment of the SKIL Bill would fix the broken H-1B
system,” said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, president of AILA. “History has
shown that highly educated foreign-born professionals bring great
benefits to the U.S. economy and we urge Congress to act on this
critical issue.”

Highlights of the SKIL Bill include the following:

  • Exemptions for U.S.-educated foreign workers with master’s or
    higher degrees from the H-1B and employment based (E green card
    quotas so their talent can be retained in the United States.
  • Creation of a flexible, market-based H-1B cap so that U.S.
    employers are not locked out of hiring critical talent for over a year
    at a time.
  • Extension of foreign students’ post-graduation practical training from 12 months to 24 months.
  • Removal of EB immigrant spouses and children from the annual cap,
    thus making more visas available for the innovative professionals we

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