H-1B Cap Reached: Modernization of System Long Overdue


April 17, 2017                                                             

CFGI Contact:            
Pete Janhunen
The Fratelli Group
(202) 822-9491

SHRM Contact:          
Kate Kennedy
(703) 535-6260

H-1B Cap Reached: Modernization of System Long Overdue

Random Lottery, Arbitrary High-Skilled Visa Caps Fail U.S. Employers and Workers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that the H-1B fiscal year 2018 cap has been reached, with 199,000 applications for the limited pool of visas currently allowed (85,000). For the fifth consecutive year, the number of applications exceeded the number of visas available within the first five days. As a result, visa allocation will be determined by lottery as part of an arbitrary process that does not reflect market realities.  \

“Under our outmoded immigration system, U.S. employers are losing ground in the highly competitive global talent marketplace – and a random lottery for H-1B visas does not help,” said Lynn Shotwell, Executive Director of the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI). “The world of work has changed dramatically since the H-1B program was last reformed almost 20 years ago. Modernization is the only option if we want to give America the competitive edge.”

“The H-1B cap story is just the latest proof of how the skills gap is hurting U.S. employers and the entire economy,” said Mike Aitken, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). “Our immigration system must support employers in their efforts to recruit, hire, transfer and retain global employees, which is critical to ensuring America remains competitive.” 

Last year, SHRM reported that 68 percent of HR professionals surveyed are experiencing difficulty recruiting candidates for full-time positions, with the STEM fields being the most difficult high-skilled positions to fill. 

“H-1B visas can be a vital tool for employers to access top global talent, drive innovation and spur economic growth, creating more jobs for U.S. workers,” continued Shotwell. “As the reform debate moves forward, we must advance a system that is innovative, fair and competitive for employers and employees. We should embrace solutions that reflect market demand and prioritize visas for employers who invest in U.S. workers.” 

In a recent CFGI survey, 74 percent of human resource professionals reported that the ability to obtain work visas in a timely, predictable and flexible manner is critical to their organization’s business objectives. More than a third of respondents whose organizations are subject to the H-1B lottery reported that they had lost key talent. 

Learn more about CFGI’s “Principles for Reform,” which outlines ways to make America’s employment-based immigration system fair, innovative and competitive. 


The Council for Global Immigration (formerly known as the American Council on International Personnel), a strategic affiliate of SHRM, comprised of over 200 corporations, universities and research institutions is engaged in the global movement of talent. CFGI members are in-house professionals responsible for ensuring compliance with immigration and related employment laws worldwide.  Learn more about us at www.cfgi.org.

Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SHRMPress.