The H-1B quota for Fiscal Year 2011 (October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011) will open on April 1, 2010. Similar to past years, the H-1B quota for Fiscal Year 2011 will be limited to 65,000. Also similar to past years, an additional 20,000 visas will be available to individuals who have earned U.S. Master’s or higher degrees. In Fiscal Year 2009 (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009), more than 165,000 petitions were filed against the H-1B quota of 65,000 and thus the quota was met during the initial filing period. In Fiscal Year 2010 (October 2, 2009 through September 30, 2010), the H-1B quota was not met until December 21, 2009. It is assumed that the H-1B quota for Fiscal Year 2010 remained open beyond the initial filing period and through December 21, 2009 due to the troubled economy and the more aggressive review of H-1B petitions by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Although the H-1B quota for Fiscal Year 2010 was not met during the initial filing period, the H-1B quota for Fiscal Year 2011 may be met during the initial filing period due to the fact that the economy is currently improving and thus employers have begun hiring again. Therefore, we are encouraging employers that will be filing H-1B quota subject petitions to commence the process as soon as possible so that the petitions are ready to be filed during the initial filing period which commences on April 1, 2010. Due to changes in how the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) processes Labor Condition Applications (LCAs), employers must allow additional time to process H-1B petitions. An H-1B petition may not be filed with the USCIS without an LCA certified by the DOL and the DOL may take 7+ days to process the LCA. If the H-1B quota for Fiscal Year 2011 is met during the initial filing period and employers are unable to file during this period, the earliest date upon which they will be able to file an H-1B quota subject petition will be in the Fiscal Year 2012 H- 1B quota which will not open until April 1, 2011.