USCIS reports record-breaking number of H-1B visa applications

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has already received far more applications for H-1B visas for the 2016 fiscal year than there are visas available under current laws, the agency reported recently. These visas, which enable American companies to hire foreign workers for jobs in the scientific, engineering and computer programming fields, are in high demand among tech-savvy foreign nationals hoping to secure employment-based immigration rights in the United States.

High demand makes for steep odds

Unfortunately, that goal may be out of reach for a majority of those applicants; federal statute mandates that the cap on H-1B visas is set at just 85,000 per year, and the USCIS reported in April 2015 that it had already received a record-breaking 233,000 applications for the coming year. Further complicating matters is the fact that 20,000 of those visas - nearly one in four - are reserved for applicants who have received a master's degree or higher. Lobbyists in the affected industries have repeatedly urged Congress to raise that cap in recent years, but for the time being it remains unchanged.

With demand outstripping supply by such a wide margin, the government relies on a computerized lottery system to determine which employers will be granted the visas they requested to bring in foreign talent from around the world. The chances for any individual employer being granted an H-1B visa are roughly one in three, which some say puts American businesses at a disadvantage in the world marketplace. According to estimates from Compete America, a coalition of tech industry employers such as Microsoft and Amazon, the United States loses about half a million jobs each year as a result of the strict H-1B visa limits.

Other solutions may be available

Despite these potentially discouraging statistics, people seeking employment-based immigration to the United States often have a number of options available to them. People interested in obtaining an H-1B visa are advised to seek legal advice to learn about the application process and other possible immigration avenues that may be open to them. Another thing to keep in mind is that the statutory caps on H-1B visas do not apply in every situation, such as when an existing visa holder wishes to extend the amount of time on a current H-1B visa or make other changes, such as switching employers or positions.

For answers to your questions about employment-based immigration in and around Miami, Florida, contact the law firm of Kurzban Kurzban Weinger Tetzeli and Pratt P.A. to arrange a personalized consultation.