USCIS again conducted the H-1B lottery this March to allocate the statutory maximum of 85,000 visas for “specialty occupation” workers. The H-1B visa is for professional jobs, for which a specific bachelor’s degree or higher is required. Each federal fiscal year, which runs October 1 to September 30 of the following year, there are 65,000 visas available for individuals with bachelor’s degrees and 20,000 additional visas for individuals with master’s or higher degrees from non-profit, accredited U.S. universities.
This year there were 758,994 eligible lottery entries. This far exceeded last year’s batch of 474,421. USCIS selected 110,791 from this year’s entries and notified employers that they have until June 30, 2023 to submit their petitions. Based upon analyses of historical lotteries and actual petition submissions and approvals, USCIS calculated that the selected lottery entries will provide enough approvable petitions for the 85,000 available visas.
These numbers beg the obvious question, does Congress understand that 85,000 visas simply are not enough to meet the needs of U.S. employers for highly skilled workers? Immigration reform always has been a political third rail, but the numbers make it patently obvious that our current immigration laws are not keeping pace with employers’ needs. Call your representative and senators and urge bold action on immigration reform.