© Farhad Sethna 2015
On April 7, 2015, the USCIS announced that it had already reached the cap of 65,000 general visas for H-1B as well as the 20,000 “Advanced US Degree” H-1B limit for fiscal year 2016.
As individuals who are aware of the H-1B process might know, the first day to file applications for H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2016 quota began April 1, 2015. Therefore, in just seven days (including a weekend), the USCIS received well over 85,000 applications!
The USCIS will now use a computer generated process to randomly select the 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 visas for the advanced degree category.
It is not yet known which applications will be selected for processing and which will not. The USCIS does not even know the date on which it will conduct the lottery for the random selection. Therefore, applicants are now in limbo wondering if their applications will be processed or not.
If you receive back a receipt notice, it means your application has been accepted for processing. If you receive back your entire application packet together with your payment checks, that means your application was not selected in the lottery.
Other options that might exist for individuals who were not selected for the lottery for this year might include:
- Changing to another status;
- Going back to school on F-1 status (for those on F-1 OPT);
- Applying for O-1(Outstanding Ability) temporary work authorization;
- Seeking dependent status from a spouse who may already be on H-1 or some other legally authorized status, for example F-1.
Alternatively, aliens who are extremely well qualified may also consider self petitioning for permanent residency either as “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability or Aliens of Exceptional Ability”.
Information regarding all of the above issues can be found elsewhere on my blog, at www.immigration-america.com.
Given the extremely quick usage of H-1B visas in this fiscal year, as well as in the last two fiscal years, it is clear that the US economy is improving, employers are hiring once again and creating additional jobs. It also underscores the importance that the USA places on highly educated individuals, with skills that are not easily found within the native US population. Congress has neglected immigration for far too long to play petty politics and America is falling behind as a result.
Congress needs to act NOW on increasing the H-1b cap in order to preserve the USA’s technological, engineering and intellectual leadership in the world.
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. He is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education and professional development seminars on various immigration-related topics. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Cuyahoga Falls, Akron and Dover, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.