For the first time in several years the H1B visa system, is unlikely to reach its cap of 65,000 before the start of the 2010 fiscal with nearly 18,000 slots lying vacant thanks to the US economy. As of August 8, 2009, approximately 44,900 H-1B cap-subject petitions had been received by USCIS and counted towards the H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits.
This is in contrast to the previous years when the USCIS had to resort to computerised draw of lots as it received petitions outnumbering several times more than the Congressional mandated cap of 65,000 within the first few days after it started receiving H-1B applications. Here is some quick H1B visa history for you:
In 2007 and 2008 the caps were reached in the first few days itself – April 2 and April 1-5 respectively.
In 2007 and 2006, the H-1B cap in the general categories were reached on May 26 and July 26 respectively, while in 2005 it was reached on August 10.
In 2004, the USCIS had to wait till October 1, before it stopped accepting H-1B petitions for the fiscal 2005, while the fiscal year 2004, it took 10 months to reach the cap.
The cap could not be reached in 2001, 2002 and 2003, when the Congress had mandated 195,000 H-1B visas instead of 65,000.
For the years 2000 and 1999, the Congress had sanctioned 115,000 H-1B visas.While for the fiscal 2000, it was on July 21, cap exceeded.
From 1992 to 1997, when the Congress had mandated 65,000 H-1B visas, the cap was not reached.
Bottom line, Congress should stop trying to micro-manage the program, and return to a simple market-based system. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of U.S. employers who hire H1B workers, truly need them. The cap is and always has been a barrier to growth and once and for all must be eliminated.