H-1B numbers will soon be depleted according to figures recently released by the government. Once depleted, H-1B numbers will not become available until October 1, 2006. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that 49,040 H-1B petitions have either been approved or are in line to be processed against the 58,200 cap for Fiscal Year 2006 (FY2006), which begins October 1, 2005. Additionally, 6,800 numbers are reserved specifically for nationals of Singapore and Chile pursuant to Free Trade Agreement authorized by the President. Employers should immediately consider, in consultation with counsel, whether to petition for H-1B status on behalf of employees who will require a new H-1B number prior to October 1, 2006. Likely candidates are employees in F-1, J-1, or TN status for whom an H-1B is desired. The cap only limits new applications for H-1B classifications within the fiscal year, and does not apply to extension applications or concurrent applications. Please also note that not all petitions for new H-1B employment are subject to the limitations of the cap (e.g. employees of institutions of higher education). There are also 20,000 numbers put aside for employees who hold a U.S. master's or higher degree. This category, however, has also seen high usage.
For further details on cap count for non-immigrant worker visas as of July 31, 2005 please visit the
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.