CFGI Quoted – “H-1B Cap Applications Drop for Second Consecutive Year”


“H-1B visa petitions filed under the annual cap have fallen for the second year in a row, to 190,098 after reaching a record-high of 236,000 in 2016.  

“…Of the 190,098 petitions filed for workers this year, 95,885 were submitted toward the cap exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees, and 94,213 were submitted toward the standard quota of 65,000 H-1B visas. That gives petitioners a 21 percent chance of selection in the advanced-degree lottery and a 38 percent chance of selection in the standard lottery for all remaining cases.

“‘Random allocation of a limited number of visas does not allow employers to efficiently recruit, hire, transfer and retain a global workforce, and we risk falling behind our global competitors,’ said Mike Aitken, vice president of government affairs of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). ‘H-1B visas are one important piece of addressing the skills gap, along with focusing resources to train and educate Americans.’

“…Reasons for the decline are attributed to changes in tech-sector staffing, as well as to President Donald Trump's Buy American, Hire American executive order, which has led to a variety of stricter petition-vetting measures at USCIS. Scrutiny of cap-subject H-1B petitions…has increased since the executive order took effect last spring.

“…‘[L]ike all companies, including U.S. companies, restrictions on visas may result in more work being performed outside the United States, which is the unintended consequence of many immigration restrictions in a global economy,’ the [National Foundation for American Policy] said.

“…U.S. technology companies obtained more H-1B visas in last year's lottery than the previous year, according to the NFAP report, with four high-profile firms…placing among the top 10 employers for approved H-1B petitions for initial employment. 

“…Another interesting finding from the report was that foreign students account for 81 percent of the full-time graduate students at U.S. universities in electrical engineering and 79 percent in computer science, which could be a contributing factor to the high number of H-1Bs used by U.S. tech companies.

“‘We need a modern immigration system that reflects market demand, protects U.S. workers, and prioritizes visas for employers who invest in the U.S. workforce,’ said Lynn Shotwell, executive director of the Council for Global Immigration…‘Predictability is important for employers to remain competitive and innovative in our global economy,’ she said. ‘It's a key element that our current employment-based immigration system is lacking.’

“…According to plans referenced in an April 4 letter written by USCIS director L. Francis Cissna, the administration is not done with its efforts to further curb the program. Cissna said the agency will propose to revise the definition of ‘specialty occupation’ in order to ‘increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program, and to revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect U.S. workers and wages.’ This may effectively end the practice of contracting H-1B workers through staffing firms.”

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