The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on October 21, 2011 that the U.S. Master's or higher degree exemption from the Fiscal Year 2012 H-1B quota (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012) has been exhausted. The exemption was limited to 20,000. Petitions filed after this date requesting the exemption will be considered under the Fiscal Year 2012 regular H-1B quota as long as numbers remain available under the regular quota. As of October 21, 2011, 46,200 petitions have been received by the USCIS against the regular H-1B quota of 65,000. Due to the U.S. Master's or higher degree exemption being met, it is estimated that the USCIS will now receive approximately 1,500 to 2,000 petitions filed against the regular H-1B quota each week. The H-1B quota in Fiscal Year 2011 was met on January 26, 2011. The H-1B quota in Fiscal Year 2010 was met on December 23, 2009. It is assumed that the H-1B quota for Fiscal Year 2012 will remain available at least through the end of December 2011. However, if demand continues to increase, the quota may be met be earlier. After the quota is met, the earliest date upon which employers will be able to file H-1B quota petitions is April 1, 2012 for petitions requesting start dates on or after October 1, 2012.

Additional information about the Fiscal Year 2012 H-1B quota will be contained in our firms future Immigration Updates as it becomes available.