The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2017 that the agency reached the congressionally mandated number of 65,000 visa H-1B Cap petitions for FY2018. USCIS reported on April 17, 2017 that they received 199,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which ran from April 3 to April 7, 2017. USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process – “lottery”– to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption – “Master’s Cap.” The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 cap. The number of petitions received this year represents a decrease from the 236,000 petitions USCIS received during last year’s filing period.
The news about the number of H-1B cap cases came a day before President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO), entitled “Buy American and Hire American.” This EO calls for a review of the H-1B visa program, with the goal of reforming the program. The EO does not take direct action, but instead calls for a series of reviews and assessments by federal departments.