Each year on April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (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. As of April 22, 2011, USCIS reported that it has received approximately 8,000 H-1B petitions counting toward the annual 65,000 cap (click here for more information regarding the H-1B cap count), less than half than were received during the same period last year. The agency also reported receiving 5,900 petitions for individuals with advanced degrees counting toward the 20,000 advanced U.S. degree or “Master’s cap.” Thus, at this time, thousands of H-1B visas remain available under the FY 2012 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.
This year’s H-1B filing volume is even lower than last year (FY 2011), which was already the lowest volume USCIS has experienced in years. After exhausting the entire cap allocation in 2007 and 2008 within the first few days of filing (for FY 2008 and FY 2009 respectively), the FY 2010 initial filing period from April 1 to April 7 saw approximately 42,000 regular H-1B cases and nearly 20,000 Master’s cap cases filed. Last year, FY 2011 cap filing was significantly lower, with 13,500 regular cap cases filed between April 1 and 15 and 5,600 H-1B Master’s cap cases. The downward trend in H-1B cap filing has now continued into FY 2012. Only time will tell whether this means the cap will be reached later this year as well – last year’s H-1B cap was finally reached in late January.