As most H-1B employers know, there is an annual quota on the number of new H-1B petitions that can be approved each federal fiscal year. The quota is 65,000 for regular H-1B petitions plus another 20,000 for H-1B petitions filed for FNs who have obtained a master's degree or higher from an accredited American university. On August 26, 2011, the USCIS reported that 29,000 regular H-1B petitions, and 15,800 master's H-1B petitions, had been filed towards the fiscal year 2012 quota.
The federal government's fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30, so fiscal year 2012 will begin October 1, 2011. Employers were eligible to start filing H-1B petitions toward the fiscal year 2012 quota on April 1, 2011, but they could not secure a start date prior to October 1, 2012. This announcement by the USCIS indicates that the 2012 regular H-1B quota is approximately 50 percent exhausted and that the 2012 master's H-1B quota is approximately 75 percent exhausted. When the quota is reached for the master's H-1B petitions, they will be eligible for consideration under the regular H-1B quota.