The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that, as of May 4, 2009, it had received approximately 45,000 H-1B petitions counting toward the Congressionally-mandated 65,000 annual cap and that the agency continues to accept petitions subject to the general cap. Additionally, it has received approximately 20,000 petitions for aliens with advanced degrees and, for the time being, will continue to accept advanced degree petitions.

This is a significant departure from preceding years where the annual cap was exhausted in a matter of days. Nevertheless, despite reduced demand undoubtedly caused by the current economic downturn, we are still projecting that all available cap-subject H-1B visas will be depleted in the coming weeks and well ahead of the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, 2009. Therefore, employers should continue to assess their H-1B hiring needs and make efforts to file petitions as soon as possible.