On April 7, 2011, the first day to file new H-1B petitions for professional employees in short supply, USCIS receipted approximately 5,900 H-1B cap-subject petitions, along with 4,500 H-1B advanced-degree petitions, out of the 65,000 available for degree’d workers and 20,000 for individuals with advanced-degrees.  Six months later, on October 7, 2011, the number of H-1B cap-subject petitions receipted reached the 41,000 mark, while receipted advanced-degree H-1B petitions reached 19,100. 

Thus, at the six month mark of the filing year, the advanced-degree quota was almost filled and cap-subject H-1B petitions were nearly at the two-thirds mark.  Included in the count is a hidden sub-count for petitions filed for citizens of Singapore and Chile, but as any unused numbers in that small group revert to the regular H-1B count, they are an invisible number until the end. 

The advanced-degree quota was met a few weeks later on October 21, so the remaining quota numbers are now being exhausted at a faster pace because both the “advanced-degree” and “regular” cases would now be counted towards the dwindling quotas, with the tiny exception for Chilean and Singaporean petitions. 

As of October 28, 2011, cap-subject H-1B petitions filed have reached 49,200, so the number left for the last 5½ months of the year is now approximately 15,800, diminishing even as you read this.  We anticipate that all H-1B quotas will be exhausted in the next 6-8 weeks.  Employers who wish to hire a new H-1B employee are well advised to start the H-1B process ASAP. 

Once again, U.S. employers will not have a reasonable level of access to highly educated employees, usually in high tech fields, many of whom will have been educated in U.S. universities.  It is an unhappy reminder of shortcomings in our educational systems and short-sightedness of our politicians. 

The cost to petitioning employers in filing and legal fees for each H-1B worker  is in excess of $5,000, plus responsibility for compliance with complex federal regulations regarding the hire of foreign national workers, and management of related issues including audit visits by federal agencies, travel restrictions, and visa tracking.  Obviously, no employer would choose a more expensive foreign national over a U.S. worker, if there were sufficient available individuals in those high-tech categories.  Yet Congress insists on cripplingly low quotas for H-1B petitions. 

Baffled.  Every year I say the same thing, baffled.