Update on H-1B Cap Subject Petitions for FY2018: 199,000 Petitions Filed
On April 7, 2017, USCIS announced that it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 H-1B visas and 20,000 advanced degree visas for FY2018.
On April 17, 2017, USCIS announced that it had received 199,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 3. This represents a 15.7 percent decrease from the 236,000 petitions that USCIS received during last year’s filing period.
In an atmosphere of uncertainty, it is not surprising that fewer petitions were filed this year, despite the evidence that H-1B visa holders are job creators that benefit our economy.
Some IT firms in India announced they were reducing the number of lower-experienced workers they were filing petitions for, meaning more of those jobs will stay in India rather than being relocated to the United States.
Some smaller IT firms, that faced scrutiny on their contractual arrangements last year, may have filed fewer petitions, while other employers, stymied repeatedly by the limitations on H-1B visas may be more reluctant to sponsor foreign graduates from U.S. schools, furthering our talent drain to other countries.
Contrary to the rhetoric, U.S. businesses do not seek H-1B workers in order to save money; the reality is that the fees and costs associated with filing a successful petition are high enough that most employers use the H-1B because they cannot locate a qualified U.S. worker to fill the position.
Though overall receipts are down less from last year’s receipts, this year is the fifth year in a row that enough petitions were filed to reach the cap within the first week of the filing period.
Moreover, the H-1B cap has been reached prior to the end of the fiscal year every single year since 1997, except for a few years when the cap was temporarily raised to 195,000.
While the H-1B program may have suited the needs of U.S. employers a generation ago, competition has intensified and employers from a variety of economic sectors and of various sizes must fight it out for the limited number of H-1B visas each year.
Our immigration system is critical to all geographic and industry sectors, not just Silicon Valley. H-1B workers are vital to our healthcare system, and our manufacturing and energy industries.
For the good of our economy, our nation needs a system that better reflects the realities facing U.S. businesses today and provides flexibility and options, including an increase in permanent visas and H-1Bs, for U.S. employers seeking to build a competitive workforce.
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