Despite the Trump administration’s strong opposition to the H-1B visa program, the number of available H-1B visas will remain the same through fiscal year 2018, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
There will continue to be 85,000 H-1B visas available through the program—65,000 available as part of the standard cap limit, and an additional 20,000 visas available to workers who have earned a US master’s degree or higher. Applications for the program open on April 3, 2017.
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The news likely comes as a sigh of relief for many US companies, especially those in the tech sector, who rely on the program to hire what the USCIS defines as “skilled workers.” After the USCIS temporarily suspended premium processing of H-1B applications in March, many were certain that the cap limit on the program would drop as well.
President Trump’s outspoken views on immigration and foreign-born workers had led many to believe that policies would swiftly come to suspend or end the program altogether. In one interview, Trump was quoted as saying: “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”
Since even before the election of Trump, tech leaders have been calling for an expansion of the H-1B program, as the demand for the visas far outstrips what is available. According to the Cyberstates 2016 report from CompTIA, there are more than 6.7 million workers in the US tech industry, but the H-1B visas are maxed out at 85,000. Assuming every single one of those visas went to tech, that would only account for 1.27% of the tech workforce.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- H-1B visas limits will remain unchanged through fiscal year 2018, according to the USCIS website.
- The news goes against rhetoric from the Trump administration, which has pushed back against the program.
- Tech has long lobbied for an expansion of H-1B, as the visas are capped at 85,000.