Reaching the H-1B Master's Cap Shows Need for Visa Reform

Tuesday August 1, 2006
George Tzamaras (202) - 216-2410

Another Cap Hit - Underscores the Need for Visa Reform

20,000 Slots Reserved for U.S. Advanced Degree Graduates Exhausted

Washington, D.C. - On July 28th, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, as of July 26th, it had received enough H-1B petitions for "foreign workers who have earned a master's degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education" to meet the exemption limit of 20,000 established by Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2007. This is on top of having reached the overall H-1B cap of 65,000 on May 6, more than four months before the start of the fiscal year.

U.S. companies need high-skilled, specialized workers to stay competitive in the global marketplace. Allowing foreign-born, U.S.-educated workers to work for a U.S. company fuels the ability of U.S. companies to stay at the forefront of scientific research and innovation.

Both the House and Senate have introduced the Securing Knowledge Innovation and Leadership Bill, ("SKIL Bill", S.2691/H.R. 5744), a measure that would provide much needed reform to the H-1B visa system.

"Passage and enactment of the SKIL Bill would fix the broken H-1B system," said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, president of AILA. "History has shown that highly educated foreign-born professionals bring great benefits to the U.S. economy and we urge Congress to act on this critical issue."

Highlights of the SKIL Bill include the following:

  • Exemptions for U.S.-educated foreign workers with master's or higher degrees from the H-1B and employment based (EB) green card quotas so their talent can be retained in the United States.
  • Creation of a flexible, market-based H-1B cap so that U.S. employers are not locked out of hiring critical talent for over a year at a time.
  • Extension of foreign students' post-graduation practical training from 12 months to 24 months.
  • Removal of EB immigrant spouses and children from the annual cap, thus making more visas available for the innovative professionals we need.


Founded in 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides its Members with continuing legal education, information, professional services and expertise through its 35 chapters and over 75 national committees. AILA also advocates before Congress and the Administration, as well as providing liaison with the DHS and other government agencies in support of pro-immigration initiatives. AILA is an Affiliated Organization of the American Bar Association and is represented in the ABA House of Delegates.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 06080266.