U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it has received approximately 42,000 of the H-1B non-immigrant visa petitions needed to meet the H-1B regular cap for Fiscal Year 2010 (beginning October 1, 2009) and almost all of the visa petitions needed to meet the U.S. master’s degree cap. USCIS will continue to accept new H-1B visa petitions and monitor the number of petitions received for the 65,000 visas available under the regular cap and the 20,000 visas under the U.S. master’s degree cap. Once the relevant H-1B cap has been met, USCIS will issue an update and announce the final receipt date. H-1B petitions will no longer be accepted after the final receipt date. USCIS will hold a lottery for the petitions received on the last day that filings are accepted.
The government began accepting petitions on April 1. This is the first time in recent years that the government has not received the necessary number of petitions to meet the cap within the first week. The cap for H-1B visas was reached in the first five business days in 2008 and in the first two days in 2007, according to USCIS statistics.
Current holders of H-1B visas are not affected by the cap. USCIS will continue to process petitions to:
- Extend the stay of current H-1B holders;
- Change the terms of employment of current H-1B holders;
- Allow current H-1B holders to change employers, unless the change involves a switch from a cap-exempt to a non-exempt employer;
- Allow current H-1B holders to obtain concurrent employment authorization with another employer;
- Work at exempt entities, such as institutions of higher education and related/affiliated organizations; or
- Allow J-1 physicians who have obtained a waiver of the home country residency requirement through the Conrad program, or similar federal programs, to change status to H-1B.
For more information, please contact the Jackson Lewis Global Immigration Practice Group.