U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, as of May 25, 2012, it has received a total of approximately 65,900 H-1B cap filings for employment in FY 2013: 48,400 petitions have been receipted against the “regular cap” of 65,000, and 17,500 H-1B petitions have been receipted against the “Master’s cap” of 20,000 for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities and colleges.

This latest information reported by USCIS indicates that both regular and advanced degree numbers for FY 2013 cap filings are almost exhausted. Further, the data released by USCIS may be a false reflection of the actual H-1B numbers remaining. The reported numbers may not include what could be hundreds, or even thousands, of cases that have been delivered to USCIS’ Vermont Service Center over the past few weeks but have not yet been “receipted in” (meaning that filing fee checks have not yet been cashed and Receipt Notices have not yet been issued). Since it is unclear how many of these cases have already been counted, or have yet to be counted, against the annual quota, there is no way to determine the actual number of H-1B visas that remain available for employment in FY 2013.

USCIS will continue to accept H-1B petitions until it has received a sufficient number of cases to meet the regular and advanced degree caps for FY 2013. In light of the receipting delays and resulting cap count confusion, employers should continue to identify persons for whom H-1B sponsorship will be needed, and contact the Ogletree Deakins attorney with whom you normally work to initiate any new H-1B petitions as soon as possible. Ogletree Deakins is closely monitoring the availability of H-1B visa numbers and will provide further updates.  

Note: this article was published in the May 2012 issue of the Immigration eAuthority.