A depressed job market seems to be keeping the H-1B cap from being reached. Very few cap-subject H-1B petitions have been filed since the initial April 1-7 filing period for the 2010 H-1B cap. In fact, the most recent report from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicated that 44,400 petitions had been received toward the 65,000 H-1B cap as of June 12 – this is fewer than the number that had been received as of mid-May, when USCIS reported that 45,000 petitions had been received. Once again, the current pace of H-1B filings suggests that employers will have the opportunity to file cap-subject H-1Bs for several more months. USCIS posts periodic updates to its website and Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on H-1B cap figures.
In other H-1B news, the conversion of the Labor Condition Application (LCA) system to the new iCERT system remains scheduled for July 1. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced on May 13 that it will keep the old LCA system available through June 30 (see http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/), thus delaying the switch to the new iCERT system. Deactivation of the old system had been scheduled for May 15. As reported in Ogletree Deakins’ May 12, 2009 E-Alert, the new iCERT system experienced significant issues that slowed electronic processing of LCAs. Hopefully, the DOL has had sufficient time to correct glitches in the iCERT system and thereby allow for the continuation of same-day processing of LCAs on July 1. However, employers need to be aware that LCA processing delays are still possible and can impact the time required to hire or extend the status of H-1B, E-3 and H-1B1 workers.