The US government can issue 65,000 cap-subject H-1Bs in any given year. An additional cap of 20,000 H-1Bs is set aside of graduates of US Masters Degrees programs (or greater programs, including Ph. Ds). For the middle part of this decade, the H-1B cap was fully subscribed on the first day that Petitions were allowed to be filed, April 1.
This year has seen the smallest number of H-1B Petitions in many years. Through the end of July, just 27,300 cap-subject H-1Bs have been approved and 11,600 cap-subject Masters H-1Bs. Last year, we saw almost twice as many H-1Bs at this time and last year's cap-subject H-1B cap lasted until mid-December. This year's numbers indicate that the cap-subject H-1B quota should be available until at least early 2011.
Generally speaking "new" H-1B petitions are subject to the H-1B cap. Employees that may need an H-1B visa include:
- International students working on an EAD card under an OPT or CPT program after having attended a U.S. school;
- International employees working on a TN may need an H-1B filed for them in order for them to pursue a permanent residency (green card) case;
- Prospective international employees in another visa status e.g. H-4, L-2, J-1, F-1;- H-1B workers with a cap exempt organization; and
- Prospective international employees currently living abroad.
International workers who are working here in the U.S. on an H-1B visa with another cap-subject employer are not subject to H-1B cap. These cases are commonly referred to as "transfer" cases and may be filed at any time throughout the year.
With the economic conditions of the last two years, H-1B usage has slowed dramatically. As I have argued in the past, less H-1B usage in a shrinking economy is evidence of the lack of fraud in the H-1B program.