One of our readers asked me that the previous article about maximum H1B cap numbers from 1990 to 2018 plot is not giving good insight for making any decision for next year’s H1B visa filing. He suggested, “What would be useful would be a plot of when the cap was reached in each year. In some years, it wasn’t reached at all (including the years when the cap was increased to 195K.)” .
I did extensive research and finally came up with this article. Hope this one helps!
Let me tell you couple of things, there is no historical data available on the USCIS website for the years 1990 – 1999. In 1999, INS approved more visas than they were supposed to. The congress jumped in and took action. It was reported by KPMG Audit. So, the policy changed after 1999 and USCIS accepts H1B petitions and uses their discretion to decide when to stop. As per data is concerned, which is after 1999, it is available on USCIS is in the form of news releases and it is kind of unclear.
Fundamentally, USCIS stops accepting applications when they think they have enough H1B visa petitions, including the backlogs they have to process and they will be able to meet the cap numbers. Their decision is just an approximate decision based on the amount of H1B approvals vs Denials and the backlogs they have with them. Data from 2004 is very good with proper reports, but before that you just have to go with some approximations based on news releases info. Here is the data and Analysis. I have explained in the plot below with annotations all the causes for the hype and changes in the dates.
Good Data is available from 2004. There were no excess visas left out. The cap was reached every year. The data they present in the reports include all the visas filed and it is a little tricky to break it by Fresh H1B visas. Bottomline, the cap was reached or not and when was the cap reached ? Refer to previous article for further details on How many visas were exactly available by year . This is only for general H1B quota. It does not include the Advanced degree H1B visa cap reach dates. Below is the graphical illustration and tabular data.
|H1B Fiscal Year||Cap Reached Date||H1B Cap Reached (YES or NO)||H1B Petitions Received by USCIS|
|2004||October 1, 2003||YES|
|2005||October 1, 2004||YES|
|2006||August 10, 2005||YES|
|2007||May 26, 2006||YES|
|2008||April 3, 2007||YES|
|2009||April 7, 2008||YES|
|2010||December 21, 2009||YES|
|2011||January 26th, 2010||YES|
|2012||Nov 23rd, 2011||YES||No H1B Lottery|
|2013||June 11th, 2012||YES||No H1B Lottery|
|2014||April 5th , 2013||YES||124,000 (H1B Lottery)|
|2015||April 7th , 2014||YES||172,500 (H1B Lottery)|
|2016||April 7th , 2015||YES||233,000 (H1B Lottery)|
|2017||April 7th , 2016||YES||236,000 (H1B Lottery)|
Some older historical data with background Information.
|H1B Fiscal Year||H1Bs Filed||H1Bs Approved||H1B Cap Available||Cap Reached Date||Comments / Reasons|
|1999||138000+||138,000+||115,000||Over Cap||KPMG audit reported that INS approved more visas than the cap in News release.|
|2000||164,814||136,787||115,000||21-March||USICS believes they have enough petitons to fulfil the cap|
|2001||201,543||201,079||195,000||NOT reached||USICS considers visas accepted after November 5, 2001 will be considered for 2002 H1B Cap|
|2002||109,576||103,584||195,000||NOT reached||USCIS says in news releseae that H1B petitions filing declined by 41%|
All the information is available for public on USCIS website. Should you need further clarification, please visit the USCIS Website . Information presented here is based on the data published on USCIS website.