As of October 15, 2010, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that it has received approximately 42,800 H-1B petitions counting toward the annual 65,000 “cap.” Approximately 4,500 petitions have been filed over the past four weeks. USCIS also has received 15,700 petitions (1,700 over the past four weeks) for individuals with advanced degrees counting toward the 20,000 advanced U.S. degree or “Master’s Cap.”

While last year’s cap (FY 2010) was reached just before Christmas in 2009, a continuation of the filing volume of the past several months indicates that the total H-1B allocation might not be exhausted until February 2011. Nonetheless, employers are encouraged to act quickly whenever a candidate for H-1B sponsorship has been indentified. H-1B demand can vary greatly, as shown by an unusual one week spike in USCIS receipts in mid-August. In addition, December university graduates may create an increase in demand as well as those F-1 students whose Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment authorization will be expiring in 2011. H-1B availability can be tracked at the USCIS website.