Demand for H-1B visa petitions increased slightly, but continued to be relatively light as compared to recent years. As of July 16, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that it has received approximately 25,300 H-1B petitions counting toward the annual 65,000 “cap.” This means approximately 3,100 petitions have been filed over the past five weeks. USCIS has also received 11,000 petitions (1,600 over the past five weeks) for individuals with advanced degrees counting toward the 20,000 advanced U.S. degree or “Master’s Cap.” Thousands of H-1B visas thus remain available under the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) quota. Persons currently employed as F-1 students or J-1 trainees and persons outside of the United States commonly require new, cap-subject H-1Bs. Each year on April 1, USCIS begins accepting new H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota for the next government fiscal year which begins on October 1.

The H-2B visa classification, which allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs, has a cap of 66,000 which is split into two “seasons” with 33,000   allocated for employment beginning between October 1-March 31 and 33,000 allocated for employment beginning between April 1-September 30. The Fiscal Year 2010 (FY 2010) H-2B cap count was at 28,539 as of July 16 (3,300 slots have been filled over the past two months). USCIS will approve cases for 47,000 H-2B beneficiaries, the difference (47,000 versus 33,000) being used as a cushion for petition withdrawals, denials and revocations. Note that petitions to extend the status of H-2B beneficiaries already in the United States generally do not count against the cap. For updates on the H-2B cap, visit the USCIS website.

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