There may still be time to prepare and submit H-1B applications, even if the applicants are subject to the annual numerical caps set by Congress. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced that it will continue to accept H-1B nonimmigrant visa petitions subject to the fiscal year 2010 cap. This includes petitions filed under the 65,000 “regular” cap and, perhaps, the 20,000 U.S. master’s degree or higher educational exemption cap.

As of yesterday, USCIS unofficially reported that within the first five business days, it received almost half the petitions needed to meet the FY2010 cap. Today it reported to the public that it has indeed received 42,000 “regular” cap cases. The report also confirms that USCIS has received 20,000 petitions under the “Master’s” cap, but that it will continue to accept advanced degree petitions since not all petitions received will be approvable.

Receipts are being issued as of April 8, 2009 for cap-subject petitions. For those who filed under the Premium Processing program during the first five day filing window, the 15-day clock started on April 7, 2009. Others will start as of the date USCIS takes possession of the file.

When and if USCIS receives the necessary number of petitions to meet the respective caps, it will issue an update to advise the public of the operative final receipt date. The final receipt date will be based on the date the USCIS physically receives the petition, not the date that the petition is postmarked.

Please remember that there is no limit on certain H-1B petitions. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers, who have been counted previously against the cap, will not count toward the Congressionally mandated FY 2010 H-1B cap. Therefore, USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States.
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers.
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers.
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.