US Employers can sponsor for work every year, as long as the workers fall under the specialty workers category. According to the , “specialty occupations require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, including but not limited to: scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.” The work visas given under this category are known as the .
For each fiscal year, there is a cap on the number H-1B visas that are issued by the USCIS. The cap set for the fiscal year 2014 was 65,000. Certain persons, who have advanced degrees are exempt from the H-1B cap and in this category the USCIS has 20,000 visas.
The H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2014 were accepted by the USCIS from April 1, 2013. Within 5 days, the cap of 65,000 visas was reached. This has not happened since 2008.
The USCIS said that it received around 124,000 petitions, including the advanced degree petitions. The USCIS used what is a random selection method to choose 65,000 petitions to meet the cap and 20,000 from the cap-exempt category. The cap-exempt category petitions were chosen first. The remaining petitions were then added to the lot for selection of the 65,000 petitions. The petitions that were not chosen will be returned to the petitioners along with the fees.
USCIS has announced that it will begin premium processing for cap subject applications from April 15, 2013 and that it will continue to accept petitions that are not subject to any cap.
With visas running out so quickly, everyone is waiting with baited breath to see what the comprehensive immigration reforms will bring for the foreign work force.