In a remarkable about-face from the past few years, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced today that after a week of receiving petitions for H-1B nonimmigrant visas, the 65,000 cap for the coming fiscal year hasn’t been reached. For the past several years, the USCIS has received far more petitions for H-1B visas on the first day applications were accepted for the coming year than it could issue.
Also, the 20,000 cap on petitions for visas for applicants with a U.S. master’s degree or higher has not been reached. As a result, the USCIS continues to accept FY 2010 H-1B petitions. The agency stated on its website that it will continue to monitor the number of H-1B petitions received and issue an update announcing that the H-1B visa caps have been met.
Software giant Microsoft is filing fewer petitions for work H-1B visas. Microsoft general counsel, Brad Smith, wrote in Microsoft’s blog, “Given the economic downturn, we are filing substantially fewer H-1B applications than we filed last year. Unlike previous years, a majority of Microsoft’s applications this year are for employees who are already working for Microsoft in the U.S.”
Computerworld reported on its website that it has been 13 years since the government issued fewer than 65,000 H-1B visas, the maximum number of regular visas that can be awarded under the current cap. And in recent years, the number of applications has far outstripped the available supply, prompting the USCIS to use a lottery to choose H-1B recipients for both fiscal 2008 and 2009.
Learn more about changes in immigration by listening to the audio conference “Shifting Immigration Landscape: ICE Raids, E-Verify, and Other Enforcement Tools Under Obama” on April 30, 2009.