New H-1B Visa Data Underscores Need for Reform

Lynn Shotwell, GMS - May 04 2023
Published in: Public Policy
| Updated May 04 2023
Worldwide ERC® joins new advocacy campaign to call on congress to modernize immigration policies. 

I remember well the first time the H-1B visa cap was reached before the end of the fiscal year — 11 May 1998. I remember it because it was my daughter’s due date. Employers were outraged that they had to wait five months—until October—to get visas. But they could be sure they would get one because there was no lottery. We channeled this energy into convincing Congress to raise the cap to 195,000 visas for several years. 

So, here we are, a quarter-century later, and employers need to be outraged and take action again. Recently released figures on H-1B visa applications from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) only emphasize the critical need for policy reforms that can support talent mobility professionals as they build workforces to meet their organization’s needs in the modern economy. 

USCIS received a record 780,884 registrations during the H-1B cap submission window for FY 2024 (which begins on 1 October ), an increase of 61% over FY 2023. The annual limit for H-1B visas is 85,000—65,000 plus a 20,000 exemption for U.S. advanced degree holders. 

USCIS selected only 14.6%(110,791) of eligible H-1B registrations for FY 2024, as compared to 26.9% for FY 2023, 43.8% for FY 2022, and 42.6% for FY 2021. The agency attributed the increase in part to an increase in individuals submitting multiple registrations, which may be unlawful. USCIS is investigating.  

Excluding multiple registrations still leaves 350,103 eligible registrations vying for the 85,000 available H-1B visas in FY 2024—leaving over 75% to be rejected. This low cap on H-1B petitions presents a serious obstacle to employers and mobility professionals seeking to move workers to where they’re needed most.  

That is why Worldwide ERC is a vocal advocate for modernizing the immigration system. We most recently raised our voice through the Legal Immigration Border Enforcement Reform This Year (LIBERTY) campaign. Worldwide ERC joined over 400 organizations in signing a letter calling on Congress to address immigration reform and border security. 

Worldwide ERC will remain focused on closely monitoring these issues, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to promote immigration policies that support workforce mobility. If you are interested in joining our ongoing immigration policy discussions, I encourage you to consider joining our Global Immigration Public Policy Forum