As of November 2, 2011, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has received 50,800 H-1B petitions against the 2012 annual cap of 65,000. The agency’s cap of 20,000 H-1B Master’s Exemption petitions, filed on behalf of foreign nationals with US advanced degrees, was met on October 21, 2011. Additional petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries who have received a US master’s degree or higher will be counted against the regular cap.

USCIS set aside up to 6,800 visas from the 2012 cap for H-1B visas for nationals of Chile and Singapore, pursuant to Free Trade Agreements. This effectively limits the quota for regular H-1Bs to 58,200 for FY 2012. The H-1B cap may be met by the end of November 2011 or sooner. As H-1B usage continues to approach the cap, we encourage cap-subject employers to file new H-1B cases as soon as possible or consider alternative visa options for new hires. We are available to strategize with you regarding potential alternatives to the H-1B visa category.

See our April 2011 Immigration News Update for a detailed overview of cap exemptions and alternatives to the H-1B visa.