The H-1B Cap is Rapidly Approaching

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The H-1B Cap is Rapidly Approaching

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As of June 1, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) had received 55,600 H-1B petitions out of the 65,000 available visas, plus an additional 18,500 petitions of the 20,000 H-1Bs available under the Master’s Degree Exemption.  Based on data from years past, the 2013 H-1B Cap may be right around the corner, if it has not be reached already.

The American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA), on June 7, 2012, estimated that a possible 63,000 H-1B petitions out of 65,000 may have already been received.  If the receipt of petitions remains at 1,800 per day, as it has recently, AILA predicts the cap may be reached on Monday, June 11, 2012.

At the peak of the economy in 2008, USCIS received 163,000 H-1B petitions within the first week of April for the 2009 H-1B Cap.  The first day that H-1B petitions may be filed for consideration under the next fiscal year cap is the first of April.  Since only 65,000 H-1B visas are available annually, 2008 was the first year that a petition filed on April 1, could be rejected for lack of an available visa in the next fiscal year.  USCIS had to implement a lottery on April 7, 2008.  One month later petitioners either received a receipt to continue processing or rejected petition complete with filing fees.

After the housing bubble burst in September 2008, plunging the economy into a depression, the 2010 H-1B Cap was not reached until December 22, 2009.  USCIS announced that it had received 42,000 petitions as of April 9, 2009, but parallel with the slow economy and rising unemployment, employers did not file for the remaining 23,000 H-1B visas for another eight months.  When the economy did not recover in 2010, the 2011 H-1B Cap was not reached until January 26, 2011.  However, unlike 2009, the receipt of petitions was gradual starting at 13,500 on April 9, 2010, and increasing on an average of 3,000 a month until January 2011.  USCIS had received 48,997 petitions as of November 19, 2010, a little over two months before the cap was reached.

As the country began to receive reports of economic recovery in 2011, the number of H-1B petitions received between April and November 2011, gradually increased from 3,000 per month between April and May to 9,000 per month between September and November.  Of 65,000 visas available, 49,200 petitions had been received as of October 28, 2011.  USCIS announced the 2012 H-1B Cap was reached just before Thanksgiving on November 23, 2011.

For the 2013 H-1B Cap, USCIS received 17,400 petitions out of the 65,000 on April 9, 2012.  Between April and May 2012, USCIS received over 15,000 additional petitions.  And just in the month of May alone, between May 4, and May 25, 2012, USCIS received another 15,900 petitions.  According to AILA, the USCIS announcement on May 25, 2012, may have accelerated the number of received petitions to 1,800 per day, based on the number of petitions reported on June 1, 2012.

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