The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 8, 2009 that the H-1B quota for fiscal year 2010 (October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010) WAS NOT met during the initial filing period. (April 1, 2009 through April 7, 2009). Therefore, the USCIS continues to accept H-1B petition filings under both the regular H-1B quota and the U.S. Master’s or higher Degree exemption quota. The regular H-1B quota is limited to 65,000 and the U.S. Master’s or higher Degree exemption is limited to an additional 20,000. The USCIS stated that it will continue to monitor filings and notify the public when either of the two quotas has been met. When either of the quotas has been met, a random selection process will be conducted only on the petitions received on the date which the quota is actually met. The petitions received before this date will be accepted and adjudicated by the USCIS.
UPDATE: As of May 11, 2009, which is the latest update provided by the USCIS, the USCIS has indicated that it has received approximately 45,000 petitions against the fiscal year 2010 H-1B quota of 65,000. The USCIS also indicated that it has received approximately 20,000 petitions requesting the exemption from the H-1B quota for individuals who have earned U.S. Master’s Degree or higher degrees. Therefore, it is assumed that the USCIS will be announcing shortly that the U.S. Master’s or higher degree exemption has been exhausted. However, after this exemption is exhausted, employers will still be able to file H-1B quota subject petitions even for individuals who have earned U.S. Master’s or higher degrees until the regular H-1B quota is met.
For the past few years, the H-1B quota has been met during the initial filing period and the USCIS has had to conduct random selection processes of the petitions received. However, it appears that due to the current economic conditions, employers have not filed as many petitions as they have in the past. Therefore, unlike in previous years, the quota for fiscal year 2010 has not been met during the initial filing period and all H-1B petitions filed during the initial filing period will be accepted by the USCIS for processing.