On April 12, 2019, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received 201,011 petitions in the first five business days of April. The total number of new H-1B petitions accepted every fiscal year is capped at 85,000. This is the seventh year in a row that demand for H-1Bs has exceeded the limited supply. Last year, the cap was met after 190,098 petitions were filed in the first week of April.
For immigration lawyers, March is a dreaded month. Workloads exceed paralegal capacity as the drive to file all H-1B petitions relentlessly moves toward the first week of April. If an H-1B petition is not filed during that short window of opportunity, an employer may lose out on continuing employment of a valued employee. Foreign students who have worked hard to excel at U.S. universities need H-1B status to continue U.S. employment after student work authorization expires. Many dreams of U.S. employment are crushed by the end of April when the golden H-1B Receipt Notice is not received.
In this time of steadily dropping unemployment and a strong economy, the lack of sufficient H-1B visas is hurting U.S. businesses and workers. The total number of new H-1B visas allotted per year has not been adjusted since 2004. This makes no sense in the current hot labor market. The need for additional H-1B visa numbers is reflected in the 116,011 H-1B petitions which were not selected in the H-1B lottery. Sadly, it is unlikely that Congress and President Trump will take any measures to remedy this broken system any time soon.