H-1b CAP REACHED IN FIRST DAYS – 5TH YEAR IN A ROW!
USCIS started accepting H-1b petitions on April 3, 2017 and, on April 7, USCIS announced that it had received more petitions than the entire H-1b cap for fiscal year 2018 allows! This means that once again USCIS will conduct a lottery to determine which employers will be able to employ the workers they have petitioned. This outcome complete ignores the fact of the significant demand illustrated by the number of petitions filed, and a cap that is completely out of line with this reality.
The Congressional limit on H-1b new hires is 65,000, and an additional 20,000 for foreign professionals who graduate with an advanced degree from U.S. universities that meet certain requirements. Last year USCIS received more than 236,000 petitions during the first week. USCIS has not released the number received this year, but it is likely to exceed last years.
The Trump administration has stated that it would target the H-1b program and other employment-based visa programs to detect and deter fraud and abuse and protect U.S. workers. While it is not clear how they intend to define “fraud and abuse”, we think the focus will be on securing employees receive the proper wage for, and working in, their petitioned occupation. USCIS has announced changes to the H-1b program that may foreshadow larger changes likely to have repercussions for U.S. employers. They have also stated, on April 3, that they will focus more on targeted site visits. The agency has the authority to conduct site visits and has been conducting random worksite inspections since 2009. However, USCIS’s recent announcement stated that they now intend to focus on employers for which USCIS cannot “validate” basic information through “commercially available data,” or companies that have a substantial amount of H-1b workers, or whose H-1b workers are working at another company’s offices.
I don’t see any objection to tighten the reigns on making sure that those who might be abusing the system are caught and stopped, however, the companies that are not, should not be caught in the crossfire! There is clearly a deficit in appropriately trained employees to fill these thousands of positions, or these employers would not go through all this hassle, expense and uncertainty with filing H-1b petitions. The system needs to be looked at from all angles and not just from the negative. Yes, let’s stop the abuses, but at the same time let’s increase the ability of these employers, that are following the law, to get the employees they so desperately need!