H-1B Numbers May Run Out Before End of 2011: Quota for Master’s Degree Filled

Under immigration law, the H-1B program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals in “specialty occupation” positions, which require a bachelor's degree or the equivalent. Under current law, there is a cap on the number of new H-1B petitions that will be granted each federal fiscal year (“FY”). The quota for graduates with a master’s or higher degrees from U.S. universities already has been filled. Current trends suggest that the cap for all remaining H-1B numbers for FY2012 could be reached before the end of 2011. To avoid the cap and ensuing complications and processing delays, employers who would like to hire H-1B workers to begin employment before October 1, 2012, should plan to file soon.

What Are the H-1B Cap Numbers?

During the dot.com boom, the H-1B cap was temporarily set at 195,000, but as of October 1, 2003, the cap returned to 65,000. Of those, 6,800 H-1Bs are allocated to citizens of Singapore and Chile under trade agreements with those countries, reducing the number generally available to 58,200 for all other countries.

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