Visa Cap Reached: USCIS receives 65K H-1B applications



The limit has been reached! The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has received 65,000 H-1B visa applications, the Congressionally mandated target for the fiscal year 2023 which will end on September 30.

A non-immigrant visa, H-1B allows employers in the US to hire foreign workers for specialty occupations. Among foreign professionals, including Indians, this is the most sought-after work visa. For technology companies in the US too, this visa is extremely important as they rely on the H-1B visa to hire a huge number of employees from countries like India and China every year.

A statement issued on August 23 by the federal agency for immigration services in the US states: “USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions needed to reach the congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap and the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap, for fiscal year (FY) 2023.”

“We have completed sending non-selection notifications to registrants’ online accounts. The status for registrations properly submitted for the FY 2023 H-1B numerical allocations, but that were not selected, will now show:

  • Not Selected: Not selected – not eligible to file an H-1B cap petition based on this registration,” the statement added.

The federal agency will however continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, are exempt from the FY 2023 H-1B cap.

The USCIS has announced that it will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in additional H-1B positions.

Last financial year, the USCIS was unable to use 66,781 visas. This year though, the federal agency has asserted that it is trying its best to achieve this year’s target and have taken up measures to process all available employment-based visas this fiscal year ending on September 30.

The annual limit for employment-based visa use in FY 2021 was 262,288, nearly double the typical annual total. The Department of State (DOS) publishes the official figures for visa use in their report of the visa office. Overall, the two agencies combined to use 195,507 employment-based immigrant visas in FY 2021. But, despite all the efforts, 66,781 visas remained unused at the end of FY 2021.

The annual limit for employment-based immigrant visas in the fiscal year 2022 is approximately twice as high as usual, says a status report of the USICS. The agency attributes this sharp increase in number of employment-based visa applications to “consular closures abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic which led to almost all 140,000 family-sponsored visa numbers going unused during fiscal year (FY) 2021. We are dedicated to ensuring we use as many available employment-based visas as possible in FY 2022, which ends on September 30, 2022.”

On how many family-sponsored or employment-based immigrant visas USCIS and DOS use during this fiscal year, the USCIS in its statement says: “DOS currently estimates that the FY 2022 employment-based annual limit will be approximately 280,000 – (double the typical annual total) – due to unused family-based visa numbers from FY 2021 “falling across” to the current fiscal year.”

“As of mid-June 2022, USCIS and DOS have used significantly more visas than at the same point in FY 2021, with USCIS alone using more than twice as many visas on a weekly basis than it was at this point in FY 2021. The rate of USCIS adjudication is also significantly higher than it was last year, with USCIS alone using more than twice as many visas on each week basis than it did at this point in FY 2021. We are well-positioned to use all the available employment-based immigrant visas in FY 2022 despite the higher annual limit.”

“Through June 30, 2022, the two agencies have combined to use 176,281 employment-based immigrant visas. We remain committed to taking every viable policy and procedural action to maximize our use of all available visas by the end of the fiscal year,” USCIS had asserted in a statement issued in July this year.