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Jan 25, 2018

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to Introduce Bill Increasing H-1B Cap Numbers

Jonathan A. Grode

Bloomberg Politics is reporting that legislation that would provide needed H-1B cap relief to a system perennially oversubscribed will be soon be introduced by Utah GOP Senator Orrin Hatch.

According to draft legislation, the law would be changed to allow “as many as 195,000 H-1B visas based on demand,”  a major increase from the current 85,000 allotted through the ‘Regular’ and ‘Master’s’ caps. H-1B planning is currently a major challenge for U.S. employers because hiring demand far exceeds annual visa supply, resulting in a ‘cap lottery’ determining which petitions are to be selected for adjudication. Since Fiscal Year 2014, U.S. employers have utilized all available visa numbers within the first week of filing. Last April, 199,000 petitions were filed. Employers accordingly have had significantly less than a 50% chance of having their filings selected by USCIS in recent years.

As with any proposed legislation, the devil is in the details, especially as Bloomberg reports that the visa numbers would be adjustable based on demand. Previous efforts to expand the cap have been unsuccessful for well over a decade.

Complicating matters further is timing: introduction of this bill coincides with the Administration’s calls for immigration reform and legislative relief for DACA beneficiaries, which request drastic reduction of visa numbers through changes to the eligibility categories for family-based immigration and elimination of the Diversity Visa program. The president also heavily campaigned against the H-1B visa during his election campaign. It is not clear whether Senator Hatch’s proposal would be a standalone bill, or eventually rolled into a larger reform package.

Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see proposed legislation offering relief for prospective employers of high-skilled foreign workers. We will continue to provide updates on this matter as it makes its way through the legislative process.

Given that the H-1B cap season is upon us, we encourage all employers to contact us today regarding their H-1B planning.  

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