This week USCIS announced that it has reached the FY 2014 H-1B Cap. USCIS started accepting new H-1B petitions (for proposed employment starting October 1, 2013) on April 1, 2013. USCIS received enough H-1B petitions -- 124,000 no less -- during the first week of April to exhaust both the 65,000 statutory allotment plus the 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for cap-exempt individuals, i.e., advanced degree holders. In a sign of a reviving economy, this marks the first time since 2008 that USCIS has received enough H-1B petitions during the first filing week to declare that no more can be accepted.
Using a lottery system, USCIS will now accept roughly half of the petitions received and reject the rest. Employers who missed out on the FY 2014 H-1B cap will therefore not be able to re-file their H-1B petitions until April 1, 2014, when a new supply of H-1B visas will become available, subject to new legislation.
It is my hope that any new legislation will address the inadequacy of the H-1B visa program to meet the actual demands of U.S. businesses; the U.S. immigration system simply needs to catch up with present day reality. Imagine sending in your tax return to IRS by April 15 and then receiving a notice telling you that your return could not be filed because IRS can only accept so many tax payments. While that might bring relief to some, it is certain that the United States would soon be unable to collect enough tax revenue to support essential government services. Similarly, without greater access to H-1B visas, American businesses who cannot hire the workers they need face a similar threat to their ability to compete and survive.