It appears the H-1B “Master’s Cap” soon will be reached. As of December 17, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that it has received 19,700 petitions (2,700 over the past four weeks) for individuals with advanced degrees counting toward the 20,000 advanced U.S. degree or “Master’s Cap.” An announcement from USCIS that the cap has been reached might come any day now. USCIS also reports that approximately 53,900 H-1B petitions counting toward the annual 65,000 “cap” have been received. Over 4,900 petitions have been filed over the past four weeks.

Those individuals who are tracking this development may recall that last year’s H-1B cap (FY 2010) was reached just before Christmas in 2009. There has been an increase in H-1B filings over the past two months. As noted the Master’s Cap appears as if it will be exhausted before the end of 2010. As persons with U.S. master’s and advanced degrees will then be counted under the regular 65,000 cap, one can reasonably expect available H-1Bs to dwindle faster. This suggests that this year’s H-1B allocation might be exhausted by sometime in late January or early February. However, as H-1B demand is impossible to predict with any certainty, employers are encouraged to act quickly whenever a candidate for H-1B sponsorship has been identified. Visit the USCIS website for weekly updates on H-1B availability.

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