On April 2, 2012 the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) began accepting petitions for FY 2013 H-1B Specialty Occupation Nonimmigrant Visas. These petitions are subject to an annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per year, granted on Oct. 1, 2012.

On April 9, 2012 USCIS reported that it had received 17,400 visa petitions toward the FY 2013 cap. This reflects three times as many petitions filed as in the first week for FY 2012. Similarly, USCIS received 8,200 petitions for individuals with U.S. advanced degrees toward the overall 20,000 petition exemption from the cap. This reflects twice as many in the same time frame last year.

With each year that passes, the cap is reached earlier, reflecting a slow return to filing numbers similar to that of 2008 when the FY 2009 cap was reached in five days or in 2007 when 150,000 petitions were received by the second day petitions could be filed.

Whether the U.S. economy is healing or employers are getting a head start on obtaining a secure employment-authorized status for current and future employees, a wise employer should evaluate its workforce for long-term employment opportunities and switch nonimmigrant workers to H-1B status now so that a green card may be more easily obtained in the future.