US H-1B visas for foreign-born tech workers closed until 2019
07 April 2018
In five days after the US Citizenship and Immigration Services opened the window for applying for the so-called H-1B visa for foreign tech workers wanting to get short-term jobs in the US, the US authorities today said the entire quota of such visas for 2019 has been exhausted.
The window that allows US tech companies hire highly skilled foreign workers opened on 2 April and closed today, giving these companies just five days to meet their requirements.
This means that that companies in the US that employ highly skilled foreign citizens won't be able to hire any more until 2019.
The limited availability of H-1B visas potentially affects US tech industry, and Silicon Valley in particular, especially hard as foreign citizens make up almost three quarters of the tech workforce in the US.
"That's it for the entire year for our nation's ability to bring in the best and brightest individuals through the H-1B program to come create American jobs," Todd Schulte, president of FWD.us, a US lobby in favor of immigration reform, said in a statement. "In addition to forcing us to miss out on the creation of American jobs, these arbitrary limits will stifle medical innovation and wage growth, and will hurt our economy."
President Donald Trump has focused on reforming the H-1B visa selection process, last year signing an executive order for government agencies to review official policies -- including those that allow spouses of H-1B visa holders to also work in the United States, The New York Times reported.
Trump also wants to award visas to the most skilled workers.
"Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that's wrong," Trump said last April.
Currently USCIS uses an electronic program to randomly select 85,000 H-1B visa holders per year. H-1B visas last three years, and they can be renewed. While visa holders are selected each year in April, they can't start work until October. Companies won't be able to petition again for H-1B visas on behalf of promising candidates until April 2019.
While the USCIS announced on Friday of exhausting the mandated number of H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2019 in under a week, that hasn't been the case earlier.
As per a release on the USCIS website, it has reached the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for the fiscal year 2019. It has also received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000 visa US advanced degree exemption, known as the master's cap.