As of October 7, 2011, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received 41,000 H-1B petitions against the 2012 annual cap. The Agency has received 19,100 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals with U.S. advanced degrees. Although this year’s supply of H-1B visa numbers might last into January, it is impossible to predict exactly when the cap will be reached and when USCIS will stop accepting new cap-subject H-1B filings.

USCIS sets aside up to 6,800 visas from the 65,000 cap for H-1B1 visas for nationals of Chile and Singapore pursuant to Free Trade Agreements. This effectively limits the quota for regular H-1Bs to 58,200, and USCIS has the regulatory authority to utilize unused Chile/Singapore free trade numbers from the previous fiscal year.

See our April 2011 Immigration News Update for a detailed overview of cap exemptions and alternatives to the H-1B visa.

As H-1B usage continues to approach the cap, we encourage cap-subject employers who are considering first-time H-1B filings to make a decision as soon as possible and to file new H-1B cases well before the end of 2011.