- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reached the 85,000 H-1B visa cap Friday morning, marking the fifth year in a row the cap was reached within five business days of the start of the filing season.
- USCIS has not yet announced how many H-1B petitions it received for the fiscal year 2018 filing season. But last year the agency received 236,000 petitions, well over the congressionally mandated cap of 65,000 regular filings and 20,000 H-1B visas with Master's exemptions.
- The agency will "reject and return" filing fees for all unselected H-1B visa petitions, according to the announcement. USCIS will continue to receive H-1B visas petitions exempt from the cap.
The H-1B program continues to remain in demand for organizations looking to bring high-skilled workers into the U.S. from other countries. The cap has quickly filled for the past five filing seasons, triggering a lottery to decide which H-1B visa petitions are accepted.
Though few changes were made to the H-1B petition process prior to the start of the filing season — save for the temporary suspension of expedited filings — federal agencies are working to crack down on program abuse.
Last week, coinciding with the start of the FY18 filing season, the Department of Justice warned employers filing H-1B petitions not to discriminate against U.S. workers. USCIS also promised more site visits to H-1B employers to ensure organizations are not abusing the system.
Federal agencies are trying to ensure employers are using the H-1B program for its intended use: to bring in high-skilled talent from outside of the U.S. But the H-1B visa program has become a point of political contention, with opponents denouncing the program for taking away jobs from U.S. workers. Meanwhile, supporters say the program is necessary for bringing hard-to-find skills into the U.S. and creating a more diverse workforce.