6 weeks after USCIS released the H-1B visas for an October 1st start date, they are over half gone. USCIS’ most recent H-1B count update indicates that as of May 11, 2012: 36,700 Regular cap petitions have been filed and 14,800 Master’s Degree Cap petitions have been filed. The H-1B visas are going much faster than the last few years.
In my opinion, the time it takes to use up the H-1B visa cap is actually a pretty strong indicator of the economy as a whole. To file an H-1B visa a company has to be willing to pay substantial fees. So if there is a U.S. worker who is just as qualified and will accept a similar salary employers usually choose the U.S. worker. As the economy picks up there are not as many qualified U.S. workers available and the demand for H-1B visas increases.