As of October 14, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported that only approximately 21,700 of the regular 65,000 H-1B visas for Fiscal Year 2012 remain available. The quota provides for 65,000 H-1B visas and 20,000 additional H-1B visas reserved for individuals who hold a master's degree or higher from a U.S. university (only 400 of the master's preference visas remain as of October 14).
Given the limited number of H-1B visas remaining for Fiscal Year 2012, employers should review their recruitment needs and act promptly if interested in pursuing an H-1B visa for employees or prospective applicants (with targeted start dates prior to October 1, 2012) who will be subject to the H-1B visa cap. Existing foreign national employees who may need H-1B petitions filed in Fiscal Year 2012 also should be considered, including: students (F-1 or J-1 visas), trainees, and recent graduates employed pursuant to optional practical training, as well as employees in L-1B specialized knowledge, TN, or other statuses.
Companies that seek to file H-1B petitions with start dates prior to October 1, 2012, should do so as soon as possible to increase the likelihood that an H-1B visa number will be available. Once the Fiscal Year 2012 H-1B cap is reached, employers will not be able to hire new H-1B employees until Fiscal Year 2013, which begins on October 1, 2012. New H-1Bs subject to the quota do not include H-1B extensions, most H-1B changes of employer, and individuals working for H-1B cap exempt organizations.
If you are interested in pursuing an H-1B petition on behalf of existing employees or prospective applicants, please contact the Tonkon Torp Immigration Practice Group and we would be happy to assist you.