USCIS just announced that it reached the statutory cap on H-1B petitions for fiscal year 2011. Any petition for a new H-1B received by USCIS after January 26th, 2011 will not be processed.
The good news for employers is that it only 3 months until they can apply for a Fiscal Year 2012 H-1B. USCIS will begin accepting applications on or after April 1st for petitions with a start date of October 1st, 2011 or later.
In 2007 and 2008 (for visas available in fiscal years 2008 and 2009) USCIS exceeded the cap immediately. USCIS held a lottery for all the petitions filed in the first week of April, because of the excess demand for the H-1B visas. With the sluggish economy and USCIS’ crackdown against off-site employment, the cap for 2009 and 2010 was not reached until much later in the year.
While many do not expect the cap to be reached the first week this year, no one knows. If obtaining an H-1B visa is important to you or your company, we recommend planning ahead and filing the first week in April just in case there is a surge of filings as in years past. If you would like assistance with an H-1b visa, contact an H1b lawyer.