Lottery system to determine visas for eligible applicants.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that the quota for this year’s H-1B visa applications has been surpassed, in both the general pool of 65,000 and the “advanced degree exemption” pool of 20,000.
The cap was reached in just five days, making this the second year in a row that the limit was reached in such a short amount of time. Because the limit was reached, all of the visas in each category will now go into a lottery system, with random winners being selected for H-1B visas this year, and others having to wait and apply next year. The random selection process for the 20,000 advanced degree applicants will be conducted first, followed by the general pool, although a date for this process has not yet been announced because of the magnitude of applications received.
“A computer-generated process will randomly select the number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 visas for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption,” said the USCIS, in a press release. “The agency will conduct the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All advanced degree petitions not selected will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.”
The “advanced degree” pool is meant for students seeking H-1B visas in order to come to the US for master’s degree program or higher. This applicant group is considered separately from the 65,000 general pool.
The USCIS said that they will continue to accept and process applications that are exempt from the cap, and that petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will not be counted towards this year’s cap. The USCIS will also accept and process petitions that have been filed for any of the following four reasons: 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 H-1B visa — the most popular type of visa used by foreigners coming to the US for temporary jobs — is used by businesses mainly to import highly skilled workers from countries around the world, and many of them come from India.