For another year running, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday announced an early end of the process for accepting applications for H1B temporary work visas for high skilled foreign workers for 2018.
The USCIS, which runs the H1B programme, started accepting applications for the 85,000 annual cap on April 3 65,00 for foreign workers and 20,000 for international students and like the last few years, it shut down the application process saying it had gathered enough applications.
But unlike in previous years, there was no mention in this year’s statement of the “randomly computer-generated process, also known as the lottery”, which the agency uses to pick the 85,000 from the thousands of petitions it receives.
The USCIS merely said it has reached the congressionally mandated 65,000 visa H1B cap for foreign workers for the financial year 2018 and that it had also received sufficient number of H1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa advanced degree exemption. The agency did not say how many petitions it had received in all.
In previous years when it closed the process early, it had revealed the number of applications it had received 236,000 in 2016, 233,000 in 2015, and 172,500 in 2014.
The lottery system has come under increased scrutiny recently, with many companies accused of gaming it by filing many more applications than needed, and the Trump administration has been said to be keen to get rid of it.
A guideline change introduced just past week by raising the bar for qualifying for “speciality occupation” could allow USCIS officers from rejecting applications either before or after the lottery, if that was indeed used to sort applications.