H-1B Visa 2019 (FY20) Annual Cap Update – Trump Immigration Policies Reducing Applications

The Trump Immigration Effect is now in full force as it relates to H-1B visas, as now a week since the April 1 season opening, we still have not reached the full 85,000 visa application cap. On United States Customer and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced on April 6 the regular cap of 65,000 visa has been reached.

However the addition 20,000 visas specifically reserved for the Advanced Degree Exemption, for foreigners who have attained US institution masters or higher degrees is still yet to be filled. This year with the H1B visa lottery, which historically has been run by;

  • Running lottery for Advanced Degree Exemption 20,000 visa cap (first)
  • Then for anyone that missed out along with all other application running the lottery for the 65,000 visa main cap (second)

The order has now been switched to run the main lottery cap first and then for Advanced Degree Holders leftover, they are run with the 20,000 advanced degree cap.

  • Full lottery for the 65,000 visa main cap for all applications (first)
  • Running lottery for Advanced Degree Exemption 20,000 visa cap for any leftover advanced degree holders (second)

The reason for this switch in order, is primarily to over index to advanced degree holders by giving them a bigger chance of getting an H-1B visa. Many argue this is the right thing to due to attract the best talent to the US, however as with many things the best candidates, entrepreneurs, and people beneficial to the US economy are not always the most educated.

However the general hostility from the Trump administration to all immigrants, and making them and their employers in this case jump through so many more hoops to even get a visa, beyond what would be seen as actually helpful to the US is seeming to depress numbers.

In the last few years, there has been around 200,000 H-1B visa applications received at this time so the lottery has been necessary and no more applications were being received in the week following April 1 opening. So the fact that we haven’t got to a full cap this year, shows how hesitant employers are in investing time, money, legal teams, and resources when they are unsure what is going to happen.

As you can imagine is both terrible for foreign individuals, their families and basic life planning, as well as companies who desperately need talent to grow and innovate.


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