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Cap on H-1B Visas for FY 2020 Reached Within 5 Days

Each year, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants 85,000 H-1B visas to applicants in “specialty occupations”. This cap has not increased since 2004, and has been greatly outweighed by demand over the last few years. Within the first five days of the 2020 fiscal year application filing period, which started on April 1, 2019, the cap was reached, as 201,011 petitions were received by April 5. This marks a 5% increase in petitions from the previous year.

Immigration legal experts at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) have lamented that the limitation on the supply of high-skilled foreign workers is detrimental to continued economic growth of the U.S. economy. H-1B visa holders and applicants are filling a critical and ever-growing void in the U.S. economy by providing needed expertise, particularly in the Information Technology (IT) and tech development industries. Without meeting the demand for these talented foreign professionals, future growth and innovation are stifled.

Even as the economy and labor demand has continued to grow in the past several years, the maximum accepted applications has remained steady for the past sixteen years. The number of applicants has surpassed the numerical cap of 85,000 for the past seven years. The next opportunity to apply for an H-1B visa is April 1, 2020, which would have a job start date of October 1, 2020 or later, depicting on when a decision is reached on an applicant’s case.


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H-1B visas are highly coveted visas that are directed towards employing skilled foreign professionals in “specialty occupations.” These visa applicants must have a bona-fide job offer from a U.S. company to work in the states in a position that involves the application of “highly specialized knowledge.” Applicants most commonly come from the STEM fields of science, engineering, logistics, and information technology,

The H-1B visa grants temporary status for three years, with an option for a three year extension, and the opportunity to apply for a Green Card. For this reason, the H-1B is one of the most coveted employment-based visas.

In order to obtain the H-1B visa, the applicant must undergo a stringent process that includes a third-party review of the applicant’s academic credentials from a foreign degree program, documents from the future employer and other third parties, and a comprehensive application completed by an attorney. This process takes months and should be begun as early as possible, usually January or February of the year in which the application is intended to be submitted to USCIS.


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With the demand for these visas far outstretching supply, making an application stand out has become increasingly difficult. Applications should be fully completed by mid-March so that they can be sent via courier and arrive at USCIS on the morning of April 1. Applicants can only apply for these visas once a year, making the timeline a critical piece in their filing. For further details, consult our recommended timetable for filing.

In the meantime The Grady Firm can help determine if you qualify for another visa that does not have a cap or such a long waiting period. Schedule a 30-minute Discovery Session today to review your goals, qualifications, visa eligibility, the pros and cons of available options, and to receive a game plan for moving forward with the best visa option for you.


The Grady Firm works with dynamic employers and employees across the country to prepare successful employment-based visa and Green Card applications. In addition, we help individuals, families, employees, business owners, and investors obtain non-immigrant and immigrant visas (B-1/B2, H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, TN, E-2, E-3), as well and Green Cards and citizenship based on family relationships, investment, or employment.

This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.

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