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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