H-1B Cap Update

The H-1B cap on November 14, 2011 was updated by USCIS. The number of H-1B petitions in line is nearing the limited cap – 20,000 for those who have obtained an advanced degree in the US and 65, 000 for all other H-1B professionals. The count as of November 14th is 20,000 for the Masters and 56,300 for the main cap. The cap is for all H-1B petitions across the United States – not just for Colorado.

The numbers for the regular cap moved from 49,200 2 weeks earlier – so moving at about 3,500 per week. USCIS will soon notify us when the 20,000 cap will be exhausted and then those applying in the advanced degree category will default to the regular cap. I predict the H-1Bs to hit the main cap in the next few weeks given the current rate, the fact the rate always increases at the end, and the advanced degree cap being hit probably this week.

The Obama Administration supports an increase to the cap but tempers it with the caveat that “it needs reform” first, given that 1 out of 5 H-1B petitions were fraudulent according to USCIS. Much has been done over the past year to prevent fraud, such as USCIS worksite investigations and the agency’s use of VIBE to check on the veracity of US and Colorado employers who file an H-1B petition.

Nevertheless, the H-1B cap has not been increased since 2004, when the 20,000 advanced degree allotment was created, and there is no political advantage for promoting foreign worker opportunities over US workers, despite the argument launched by NYC Mayor Bloomberg that losing degreed foreign workers is “national suicide” as they fill critical holes (e.g. IT, health jobs) in our workforce and can help US companies to grow and create employment.

If you have not filed an H-1B Petition you had better get it in as quickly as you can; otherwise your potential worker cannot file until the FY2012-13 visas become available on October 1, 2011. The earliest you can file for an October 1st start date is then April 1, 2011.

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