INS Press Release

June 11, 1999

 

U.S INS Announces H-1B Procedures
As Fiscal Year 1999 Cap Is Reached

WASHINGTON – The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) announced today that it will stop accepting H-1B visa petitions for Fiscal Year (FY) 1999 employment of H-1B workers. The INS has determined that the 115,000 annual cap on the H-1B visa category for FY 1999 will be reached on June 15, 1999, based on petitions already filed. As of May 31, 1999, INS had approved 108,386 H-1B visa petitions.

Petitions for First-Time H1-B Employment

INS will implement the following procedures for the remainder of FY 1999 (through September 30, 1999). These procedures will be published in the Federal Register on June 15, 1999.

Exceptions – Petitions for Current H-1B Workers

INS will continue to process petitions filed for current H-1B workers, since they are not affected by the visa cap. Such applications include petitions to:

Accommodation for Foreign Students and Exchange Visitors

Concurrently, INS is publishing in the Federal Register an interim regulation to accommodate certain foreign students (F visa category) and exchange visitors (J visa category) who are already in the country awaiting approval of an H-1B petition filed on their behalf by an employer. The regulation allows such individuals, and their dependent spouses and children, to remain in the United States while waiting for new H-1B visas to become available on October 1, 1999. However, they are not permitted to work or engage in any other activity that would be in violation of their F or J immigration status.

Exchange visitors who are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement are not covered by this regulation.

Background

The H-1B is a temporary visa category for nonimmigrant workers that includes specialty occupations which require a bachelor’s degree or higher and fashion models of distinguished merit and ability. Typical H-1B occupations include architects, engineers, computer programmers, accountants, doctors and college professors. Initially, the maximum period of admission is three years, which may be extended for an additional three years.

The H-1B visa category was established by the Immigration Act of 1990. The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 temporarily raised the number of H-1B visas available annually from 65,000 to 115,000 for fiscal years 1999 and 2000, and from 65,000 to 107,500 for FY 2001, while requiring a new H-1B worker fee of $500 paid by employers. The $500 fee funds training and educational programs for U.S. workers.

Questions and Answers

Q. What is the receipt date (the date INS received the petition) of the latest petition that will be granted H-1B status for FY 1999?

A. INS estimates that approvable petitions with a receipt date of on or before April 9, 1999, will be granted H-1B status for FY 1999.

Q. Have H-1B visas reached the 65,000 annual cap in the past?

A. Yes, H-1B visas have reached the 65,000 annual cap for the past two years. In
FY 1997, the 65,000 annual limit was reached on September 1, 1997. A total of 5,099 beneficiaries approved during the rest of the fiscal year (September 2, 1997 through September 30, 1997) were held in abeyance until the beginning of the new fiscal year, October 1, 1997, and were applied to the FY 1998 limit.

In FY 1998, the 65,000 annual limit was reached on May 11, 1998. A total of 19,431 beneficiaries approved during the rest of the fiscal year (May 12, 1998 through September 30, 1998) were held in abeyance until the beginning of the new fiscal year, October 1, 1998, and were applied to the FY 1999 limit.

Q. How many H-1B visas have been approved in past years?

A. FY 1998 = 65,000; FY 1997 = 65,000; FY 1996 = 55,141; FY 1995 = 54,178;
FY 1994 = 60,279; FY 1993 = 61,591; FY 1992 = 48,645.

Q. What are the top 10 countries of birth of the beneficiaries of H-1B petitions?

A. For the first half of FY 1999, the top 10 countries are:

India = 46% China = 10% Canada = 4% Philippines = 3%
Taiwan = 2% Korea = 2% Japan = 2% United Kingdom = 2%
Pakistan = 2% Russia = 2%

Q. What are the top occupations of the beneficiaries of H-1B petitions?

A. The INS will begin compiling complete information on the occupations of H-1B beneficiaries, as well as their education and compensation, beginning in FY 2000, as required by the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998.

– INS –