Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 96091699 (posted Sep. 16, 1996)"
U.S. Department of Justice
Immigration and Naturalization Service
H-1B Visa Cap for Fiscal Year 1996
The Immigration and Nationality Act permits nonimmigrant
workers to enter the United States to perform services in a
specialty occupation which requires a bachelors degree or
higher, or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and
ability. Typical occupations admitted under the H-1B
program include architects, engineers, accountants, doctors
and college professors, which are limited to 65,000 per
For FY 1996, a preliminary INS statistical report indicated
that as of August 20, petition approvals stood at 66,541.
Accordingly, INS ordered INS Service Centers to temporarily
hold H-1B cases. However, recognizing the importance of the
H-1B program to the business community, INS pursued a
thorough verification of the statistical report.
Verification of the H-1B statistical report determined that
the 1996 H-1b cap had, in fact, not been reached and Service
Centers resumed processing H-1B visa petitions on September
6. The following clarifies the verification process.
* INS created and ran a second statistical report to
confirm the data. This second report set initial criteria
to ensure that the system counted only clearly appropriate
H-1B cases under existing policy. The findings of the
second statistical report indicated that as of September 6,
petitions approvals stood at 60,227.
* In running the second report from scratch, INS
discovered that the computer code used for the first report
included H-1B cases involving all changes in previously
approved employment, not just the filing of a new petition.
As a result, approximately 10,500 duplicates were
identified, including previously approved H-1B visa holders
who accepted additional work and those who changed
employers. INS determined that these duplicates should
not be counted against the 65,000 cap.
* On Friday, September 6, INS instructed its Service
Centers to resume processing the nearly 5,000 H-1B cases
held in abeyance since August 20. INS is monitoring the
number of approvals on a daily basis; however, the 65,000
cap is not expected to be reached prior to September 30,
1996, the last day of the fiscal year. A new allotment of
65,000 H-1B numbers will begin on October1, 1996.
INS plans to publish a proposed rule explaining its
procedures in order to solicit public comment on methods to
track petition approval numbers for Fiscal Year 1997. INS
will consider all comments to its proposal before
formalizing the methods for maintaining and tracking the H-
1B cap for FY97 and beyond.