Unlike in recent years, when the H-1B cap was reached immediately, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that as of May 1, 2009, it had received approximately 45,000 H-1B petitions counting toward the congressionally mandated 65,000 cap for fiscal year (FY) 2010. The agency continues to accept petitions subject to the general cap.

Additionally, the agency has received approximately 20,000 petitions for those with advanced degrees; however, USCIS continues to accept advanced degree petitions “since experience has shown that not all petitions received are approvable.” Congress mandated that the first 20,000 of these types of petitions are exempt from any fiscal year cap on available H-1B visa numbers.

For cases filed under the premium processing program during the initial five-day filing window, the 15-day premium processing period began April 7, 2009. For cases filed for premium processing after the filing window, the premium processing period begins on the date USCIS takes physical possession of the petition.

USCIS will provide regular updates on the processing of FY 2010 H-1B petitions. The updates are available here. The announcement is available at here.