H-1B Highly-skilled Worker Program

The H-1B visa is a temporary non-immigrant employment visa for highly educated foreign professionals in “specialty occupations” that requires at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. The visa is valid for three years with the option to renew for an additional three years for a total of six years. H-1B employers may sponsor H-1B workers for immigrant visas (green cards). The H1B visa is currently capped at 65,000 per year, with 20,000 additional visas for foreign professionals who graduate with a Master’s or Doctorate from a U.S. university. In recent years, the limit has been reached days after the visas are made available (April 1 of each year) as the number of U.S. employers seeking highly skilled foreign professionals has drastically increased and far outstripped the limited pool of H-1B visas available. 

2012 was the first year the cap was reached on “the first day” since 2008. Since then, the cap has been reached on “the first day,” which includes the first 5 business days from April 1st.  The cap for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 was reached on April 5, 2013 when United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, USCIS has received more than 172,000 H-1B petitions, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption thus reaching the cap (annual numerical limit for cap-subject H-1B petitions) from U.S. employers on April 7, 2014.  

Both last and this year, USCIS conducted the selection process or “lottery” for advanced degree exemption petitions first for 20,000 visas and all advanced degree petitions not selected were part of the random selection process for the 65,000 cap. Petitioners, U.S. employers, and foreign workers will only know if their petitions were selected under the cap when they receive a receipt notice that the H-1B petition is being adjudicated or, for petitions not randomly selected, they will receive a rejection notice for the petition with the filing fees returned.


Understanding the H-1B process is an important way to recognize the vital economic role higher-skilled immigration plays in growing our economy and creating new opportunities for native and foreign-born workers alike.


If you have questions about the H-1B Program, please contact Sujin Kim, Esq. at (251) 379-8065/ (251) 387-2544 or skim@gcimmigration.com