Many people are wondering what caused the H-1b cap to be reached so much more quickly this year. Information that the cap would be met in November, two and a half months earlier than past years, caused many employers to scramble to submit petitions. At the Hammond Law Group, we believe that there are several reasons why the cap was reached at an earlier date. Perhaps most obviously, IT industry groups, such as TechServe Alliance, have noted consistent increases in hiring throughout this year. As a result, many IT organizations submitted an increased number of H-1b petitions this year for foreign workers who they hoped would fill these positions. In addition, the U.S. Consulates in India are denying a large amount of the L-1 visas. By decreasing the amount of L-1 visas available to Indian personnel, many organizations have resorted to using the H-1b visa to ensure that their personnel are able to enter the United States and work. Finally, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Mayorkas announced on August 2, 2011 that foreign entrepreneurs could use non-immigrant and immigrant visas to obtain status in the United States. It is possible that a number of H-1b visas were absorbed by foreign entrepreneurs. While all of these reasons likely contributed to the quick rate at which the H-1b visas were used up, we believe that the high rate of denials of the L-1 visa at U.S. Consulates in India and the increased hiring occurring in the IT industry caused the cap to be reached at an earlier date.
The USCIS has announced that the 20,000 quota allocated to graduates of US Master's or higher degree programs for H-1b visas has been reached as of 10-21-2011. There are also less than 20,000 left in the regular quota and there has been a recent marked increase in the number of new filings. If the current pace continues, the cap will be reached in Dec, several months ahead of projections from only 30-45 days ago.
The USCIS is very near to reaching the H-1b cap. As of Friday, the USCIS had receipted 60,700 H-1b petitions. That leaves only 4,300 cap-subject petitions available for this fiscal year. It is expected that the cap will be reached before the end of this month.