A total of 16,698 cases have been counted against the 20,000 H-1B cap exemption for holders of advanced degrees from U.S. universities; of these, 14,281 have been approved and 2,417 are pending.
*6,800 are set aside for the H-1B1 program under terms of the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements and to the extent unused can first be made available for general use on October 1, 2006, the start of FY 2007. **Filings will be rejected the day after the cutoff date for new filings. The cutoff date will be whenever sufficient petitions and associated worker applications have been received to satisfy the cap of 33,000 visas minus first-time beneficiaries changing status. USCIS has estimated that 62% of approved beneficiaries will actually result in H-2B visas issued by Department of State. Accordingly, USCIS will cutoff the first half cap at 52,000.
Established by the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT), the H-1B nonimmigrant visa category allows U.S. employers to augment the existing labor force with highly skilled temporary workers. H-1B workers are admitted to the United States for an initial period of three years, which may be extended for an additional three years. The H-1B visa program is utilized by some U.S. businesses and other organizations to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in a specialized field. Typical H-1B occupations include architects, engineers, computer programmers, accountants, doctors and college professors. The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000.
H-1B Advance Degree Exemption
The H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004, which took effect on May 5, 2005, changed the H-1B filing procedures for FY 2005 and for future fiscal years. The Act also makes available 20,000 new H-1B visas for foreign workers with a master’s or higher level degree from a U.S. academic institution.