Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report to Congress October 1, 2016 - September 30, 2017 [open pdf - 791KB]
"The H-1B nonimmigrant classification is a vehicle through which employers may obtain workers on a temporary basis. Employers may file an H-1B petition for an alien to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of an exceptional nature relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project or coproduction project, or services of distinguished merit and ability in the field of fashion modeling. [...] Although USCIS is responsible for evaluating an alien's qualifications for the H-1B classification and effecting a change of nonimmigrant status for aliens already in the United States in another nonimmigrant classification, approval of an H-1B petition does not guarantee issuance of an H-1B visa or admission to the United States in H-1B status. [...] When the H-1B category was enacted in 1990, Congress set a maximum of 65,000 aliens who could be issued H-1B visas or otherwise provided H-1B status during each fiscal year. This limitation, commonly referred to as the 'H-1B cap,' generally does not apply to H-1B petitions filed on behalf of certain aliens who have previously been counted against the cap."
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: http://www.uscis.gov/