Council for Global Immigration quoted in article – “2017 H-1B Visa Cap Filings Set New Record”

4/15/2016

SHRM, 04/13/2016 –

"Employers filed approximately 236,000 petitions for H-1B guestworker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2017, a lower total than some were predicting, but still surpassing last year's record by 3,000, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

"…For the fourth consecutive year, USCIS received far more petitions than are allowed under the statutory cap of 65,000 visas, plus 20,000 visa petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption. In 2013, USCIS received 124,000 petitions, followed by 172,500 in 2014 and 233,000 petitions in 2015. In each of the four years, the cap was reached during the first week that employers could file for the visas.

"Lotteries for both the standard and advanced degree H-1B caps were held April 9 to pick the FY 2017 H-1B cases to be processed for a work start date of Oct. 1, 2016.

"…'Overall, H-1B petitions had a mere 36 percent chance of being selected in the lottery,' said Justin Storch, manager of agency liaison at the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI), based in the Washington, D.C. area. Employers not eligible for the U.S. advanced degree cap had a 30 percent chance of having a petition selected, he added.

"'Once again, U.S. employers have lost out in the global race for talent, and once again our entire economy continues to pay a high price for our outmoded immigration system,' said CFGI Executive Director Lynn Shotwell. 'Our continued reliance on a system of chance to determine a critical part of our future workforce is unfortunate and the arbitrarily low number of high-skilled visas only hurts everyone.'

"This year's significantly smaller increase in number of H-1B petitions (a 1 percent increase, compared with last year's 35 percent year-over-year growth) isn't an indication of waning demand, said Dick Burke, president and chief executive officer of Visanow…'It's rather reflective of what we heard from certain companies—that many of them are giving up hope on the program after years of being turned away.'

"Another reason for the less-than-expected amount of filings may have to do with recent legislation doubling fees required of heavy users of the visa program. Employers with 50 or more staff in the U.S., and with 50 percent or more employees on H-1B visas are required to pay a $4,000 fee on top of the standard filing fees.

"…Legislation to raise the H-1B cap—or make it subject to market demand—is not expected until after a new U.S. president takes office in 2017 at the very earliest. 'Immigration is hotly debated every day in the presidential elections, but we don't anticipate any legislation this year that would give employers better access to this talent,' said Rebecca Peters, director of government affairs at CFGI."​

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