Every year on the first business day of April, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) make available a limited amount of H-1B nonimmigrant visas for U.S. employers to hire experienced foreign professionals. The available visas are capped at 65,000 for new hires and 20,000 for those who have earned a master’s or doctoral degree from a U.S. university. It should come as no surprise that over the last several years the demand for H-1B visas has far exceeded the allotted available. Most years, the cap is reached within 5 business days. When USCIS deems that they have received enough applications to meet the limits, a “lottery” system kicks in to ensure that all visas are allocated.
The American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and USCIS, pursuing further explanation on how the “lottery” operates. In the past, employers’ applications were either selected or returned to the petitioner with no explanation. The lawsuit is asking for more clarity as to how the process works from start to finish as well as documents to back it up.
Both parties that filed this lawsuit are looking to see if the system is ran fairly, that all visas are being utilized, as well as what follow-up is done on unused visas. With this form of visa in such high demand, it is in everyone’s best interest to make sure the system is ran legitimately. The outcome of this case will shed some light on where the current system stands and what further actions may be necessary.