U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the cap for the FY 2020 H-1B filing period, receiving more than 200,000 petitions, the agency said Friday.
On April 5, USCIS announced it filled the regular cap of 65,000 visas. It received enough visa petitions to fill the 20,000 master's cap on April 10. This was the first year USCIS reversed the order the H-1B lottery was drawn to prioritize those educated in the U.S.
Though H-1B visa adjudication has changed, making it more difficult to navigate the system, USCIS had an uptick in petitions for FY 2020, a 6% increase from the 190,000 received last year.
Once the cap is filled, petitioners are not guaranteed a visa. As USCIS goes through the applications, many petitioners will likely receive requests for evidence, which have spiked in recent years. In FY18, 38% of processed H-1B petitions had a RFEs, a 77% increase from FY17.
Some H-1B visa holders up for renewals are choosing to leave the program rather than navigate the adjudication process, turning to Canada, which is eager for talent.
Companies long-reliant on the H-1B program are finding alternatives to continue doing business in the U.S. Indian consulting firm Infosys Limited had the third-most of initial and continuing H-1B approvals in FY 2018, with almost 6,000 visa holders, but the company is shifting its reliance on the program.
This is in part because the company has had to. Though Infosys filed fewer petitions in FY 2018, its approval rate has gone down, according to data from USCIS. In FY18, 74% of Infosys visas were approved, including initial applications and continuing approvals.
By comparison, in FY16, 97% of applications were approved and in FY17, 95% were approved.
In 2017, Infosys announced plans to hire 10,000 workers in the U.S. and four technology centers in places like Raleigh, North Carolina and Providence, Rhode Island within 24 months. Since announcing its plans, Infosys has hired more than 7,600 U.S. workers.
Demand for talent is strong and its availability is "constrained across the board," especially in the U.S. with some changes to regulation, said Salil Parekh, CEO and managing director of Infosys, speaking Friday on the Q4 2019 earnings call, in response to a question on H-1B policy.
"Having said that, we've been able to fulfill the demand through fairly aggressive recruitment. We had over 50,000 new hires join us in fiscal 2019," Parekh said.