SAN FRANCISCO — The H-1B visa’s congressionally mandated cap 85,000 for fiscal year 2018 was met within five days, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in a statement.
The applications opened on April 3, and this is the fifth consecutive year that the cap has been fulfilled in less than a week.
The program has allocated 65,000 slots for foreign workers and an additional 20,000 for the U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.
The total number of H1-B applications received this year has yet to be announced.
Businesses in the United States use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require specialized knowledge, such as science, engineering and computer-related fields.
The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings. It will, however, continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap.
On April 3, USCIS said it would temporarily suspend premium processing for all H1-B petitions, including cap-exempt petitions, for up to six months.
“While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions,” it said.
Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, will also not be counted toward the congressionally mandated FY 2018 H-1B cap.
The agency will continue to accept and process petitions filed to: extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States; change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers; allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.
The Trump administration is reportedly planning to crackdown on H1-B abuses, with the USCIS saying it would conduct site visits of petitioners suspected of misusing the program.
In a statement earlier this month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said it “will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers. U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims.”