The demand for H1B visas in the first week of April 2015 was over 233,000, up from 172,000 in 2014 and 124,000 in 2013.  The annual worldwide quota of 85,000 H1B visas is made up as follows:

58,200 for Bachelor’s degree holders

6,800 for H-1B1 visas for nationals of Chile and Singapore

20,000 for US Master’s degree holders

As I write, USCIS has begun the process of sending H1B petitions back to unsuccessful applicants, all 148,000 of them.  Everyone involved in this process knows it’s a big gamble; odds were predicted to be less than 50/50 this fiscal year based on April 2014 figures and came in even lower than anticipated, with about 36% of entrants ‘winning’ the H1B lottery.  It’s remarkable that despite the wasted resources in time and money which this process can entail, and with ever diminishing odds, even more US employers petitioned for foreign workers this year, up 35% on April 2014 figures.  It’s apparent that some US employers need to hire foreign professionals so badly they will risk being ‘losers’ in this context just to have a shot at it, despite the odds.


What now for the 148k or so disappointed employers and would-be employees?  For students on an F-1 visa, Curricular Practical Training (CPT) may sometimes be an option, see:

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students may apply for a 17-month STEM extension in certain circumstances.

For USCIS Q&A on this topic, see:

For Stem degree list, see:

As discussed in more detail in my earlier blog, L-1 intra-company transfer visas, E-1/E-2 treaty trader/investor visas and the J-1 training visa are excellent categories for suitable cases. See:

TN visas are available to Canadian and Mexican professionals under NAFTA, while E-3 visas allow Australian citizens to work as professionals in the U.S.

Although some graduates may be too early in their career to qualify for an O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in sciences, education, business, athletics or the arts, it’s worth reviewing the requirements. See:

If you can secure a job offer from a cap-exempt organisation, the quota does not affect you.  The cap does not apply to institutions of higher education, non-profit research organizations, and government research organizations. These qualified institutions and their affiliates are exempt from the H-1B cap and can sponsor for an H-1B visa at any time of the year.


As always, we’re ever hopeful that immigration reform will come to the rescue of the H1B quota (I’ve documented the story so far elsewhere, see: but only time will tell.  In the meantime, it’s best to avoid having to hear the words ‘I wouldn’t start here if I were you!’ wherever possible. Plan early, get qualified advice about the options and have a backup plan just in case.

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