U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, as of December 21, 2009, there are sufficient cap-subject H-1B petitions in the pipeline to fill the fiscal year 2010 quota. USCIS has also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption. Petitions received after December 21 will be rejected. Those cases received on December 21 will be subject to a computer-generated random selection process.

Now that the H-1B cap has been reached, employers will not be able to obtain new H-1Bs until October 1, 2010. It is important to remember that the cap only applies to new H-1B cases, and not to extensions of H-1B status or a transfer of an H-1B visa from one employer to another. The cap does, however, affect those foreign nationals who are in H-1B status seeking to work for new employers, but who are currently exempt from the H-1B cap based on employment with a university or a related or affiliated nonprofit entity, or employment with a nonprofit or governmental research organization.

Employers should contact any of our immigration attorneys with questions or concerns about how these numbers might impact upon the hiring of foreign nationals. Although H-1B visas may no longer be available until October 1, 2010, there may be alternative visa options for a particular candidate that we can assist you with.