New H 1B Visa Data Underscores Need for Reform - ISS Relocations

There Is a Need for Reform in the H-1B Visa Program Based on New Data

An international advocacy campaign is calling on congress to modernize immigration policy through the Worldwide ERC®. 

It was 11 May 1998 when the H-1B visa cap was first reached before the end of the fiscal year. The date was special to me because it was the due date of my daughter. Visas had to be obtained five months later, in October, which outraged employers. Despite this, they were sure they would receive one since there was no lottery. Through this energy, we convinced Congress to raise the visa cap to 195,000 for several years.

Twenty-five years later, employers still need to be outraged and act. The U.S. Department of State recently released figures on applications for H-1B visas. According to USCIS, talent mobility professionals need policy reforms that will help them build workforces that meet their organization’s needs in the modern economy.

In the H-1B cap submission window for FY 2024 (which begins on 1 October), USCIS received a record 780,884 applications, an increase of 61% over FY 2023. An H-1B visa can be issued to up to 85,000 employees—65,000 plus 20,000 for advanced degree holders in the U.S.

Only 14.6% (110,791) of eligible H-1B registrations were selected by USCIS in FY 2024. It compares to 26.9% for FY 2023, 43.8% for FY 2022, and 42.6% for FY 2021. In part, the agency attributed the increase to an increase in people submitting multiple registrations, which may be illegal. An investigation is underway by USCIS.

With the 85,000 H-1B visas available in FY 2024, 350,103 eligible registrations remain—leaving over 75% to be rejected. Employers and mobility professionals seeking to move workers to where they’re most needed face a serious obstacle with this low H-1B petition cap.

It is for this reason that Worldwide ERC advocates for modernizing the immigration system. As part of the LIBERTY (Legal Immigration Border Enforcement Reform This Year) campaign, we raised our voices. In a letter to Congress calling for immigration reform and border security, Worldwide ERC joined over 400 organizations.

A close eye will be kept on these issues at the global level by ERC. Continuing our efforts to support an immigration policy that encourages mobility for the workforce is one of our top priorities. I invite you to join our Global Immigration Public Policy Forum if you would like to participate in our ongoing immigration policy discussions.

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