Is H1B Visa the Right Path for You?

This is a question that thousands of people around the world consider every year.

If you want to work in the US as a highly skilled temporary foreign worker under a specialty occupation, H1B is the most popular option.

Every year, on 1 April, the H1B Lottery ('HCap') opens hundreds of thousands of applicants eagerlyanticipating the selection of their petition, but the odds are not there.

Annually, only 65,000 H1B visas are granted to skilled workers who have only a foreign degree equivalent to a US bachelor's degree and a minimum of five years of relevant experience.

An additional 20,000 H1B visas are also granted to skilled workers with advanced master's degree or higher and a minimum of three years of relevant experience.

There is also a category of H1B Cap Exempt for non-profit organisations. Typically issued to medical professionals, educators and researchers. Think about MDs, RNs, university professors, etc. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a look back at how the H1B visa came to be. Let's look at some important dates in the H1B history timeline and how these laws shaped the H1B visa.

The History of the H1B Visa

June 27, 1952

Section 101(15)(H)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act) is where we see for the first time a reference to the term H1 and the birth of selective immigration for “skilled foreign workers”.

November 29, 1990

Immigration Act of 1990 replaced H-1 with two separate visas, one which was designated as the H-1B for “speciality occupations”.

Establishing a quota of 65,000 H1B visas for each fiscal year and requiring employers to pay a prevailing wage and other attestations via the Labor Condition Application.

Job-based immgration was also born via the Employment Based (“EB”) categories, EB-1 through EB-5 with a 7% per country of origin quota and 140,000 Employment Based Green Cards issued in each fiscal year.

October 21, 1998

The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act (“ACWIA”) made several key changes to the H1B visa.

Increasing the H1B fiscal year quota to 115,000 for 1999 and 2000 and 107,500 for 2001 with the annual cap returning to 65,000 in 2002.

Implementing a fee based model became one of the primary sources of revenue for Immigration and Naturalization Services (“INS”).

October 17, 2000

American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (“AC21”) resulted in several significant modifications to the H1B visa.