All of this year’s H-1B visas have already been taken

These seats are taken.
These seats are taken.
Image: Reuters/Andrew Kelly
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Once again, the availability of H-1B visas has been exhausted.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ran the H-1B lottery yesterday (April 11) to allocate visas that let immigrants live and work in the country for up to three years. The agency announced that it had received 190,098 applications for the fiscal 2019 filing period which began on April 02, far outstripping the 85,000 visas that the US will issue.

On April 06, the USCIS said it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 as well as the cap of 20,000 for advanced-degree holders.

Cap-exempt applicants, such as nonprofit entities, government research institutions, and nonprofit research institutions, can continue applying. The US will also continue to accept and process amended applications, renewal or extension requests, and transfer petitions. However, premium processing has been halted.

Slowing demand

The Trump administration has been adding more and more hurdles to the H-1B filing process, from increasing paperwork and tougher criteria to shortening visa durations, causing fewer firms to apply. India’s big IT companies, who form a majority of the applicants, were among those that reeled back this year.

Though the demand for the temporary work visa once again significantly outpaced supply, the chilling effect of the recent US moves is apparent. Applications for financial year 2019 were down by over 45,000 from the peak of 236,000 two fiscals ago.