The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has just announced that it has received?approximately 5,900?H-1B petitions under the regular H-1B cap of 65,000, and that?around?4,500?have been counted toward the 20,000 set aside for those with advanced U.S. degrees.? This means that USCIS continues to accept applications for initial H-1B status a week after the H-1B filing season opened up on April 1st.? This seems to be a reflection of the economy as it continues its slow improvement.?

It is interesting to note that fewer H-1B numbers have been accounted for during the first week of this cap-filing season than were received during the same timeframe last year.? However, considering that H-1B numbers for last year’s H-1B cap were available through most of January, it is logical that fewer H-1B petitions were stockpiled for an April 1st filing.

Last year’s H-1B cap for FY2011 also experience much lower demand, with H-1B numbers?being available until January 26, 2011 – the?FY2011 cap opened on April 1, 2010.?The lower demand of the past two years is in stark contrast to the FY2009 H-1B cap when 133,000 H-1B petitions were received within the first two days of filing.? Again, the usage of H-1B numbers appears to be in direct correlation with the health of the economy.

In light of the announcement today, H-1B petitions will continue to be accepted by USCIS.? If the 20,000 set aside for those with advanced U.S. degrees is exhausted first, H-1B numbers for these applicants will be taken from the regular cap of 65,000.? On the day USCIS determines that sufficient petitions have been received to meet the annual limit, a random selection lottery will be conducted for all cases received on that day. Cases not selected in the lottery will be rejected.