The H-1B Cap
The CIS began accepting petitions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 H-1B visas from April 1, 2006. The soonest these visas can be used for work authorization will be October 1, 2006, which is the start of FY 2007. Last year, the quota of 58,200 regular track H-1B visas was exhausted by the first day of the fiscal year on October 1, 2005. The 20,000 H-1B visas for persons who had obtained a Master’s or higher degree from a U.S. university was exhausted in January of 2006.
While it is impossible to predict exactly when the FY2007 regular track H-1B quota will be exhausted, it is currently estimated that there may be fewer than 10,000 visas available and that the current usage rate has climbed to approximately 2,000 visas per day. This means that the regular cap could be reached within one week or possibly sooner. Regular updates regarding the cap count for FY 2007 can be found here. Of the 20,000 H-1B visas for persons who have obtained a Master’s or higher degree from a U.S. university, approximately 15,000 visas are still available. Please note that the cap only affects H-1B visa petitions filed on behalf of a foreign worker for the first time. H-1B extension cases, H-1B change of employer cases, or initial cases already received by the CIS should not be affected.
Some employees affected by the cap may have additional work visa options including F-1 practical training, TN, E, J, L, and O-1 visas. Others foreign workers may need to wait outside of the U.S., possibly at a foreign subsidiary, until new H-1B visas become available. As the available case options will be unique to each individual employee, we recommend that you contact an immigration attorney regarding any specific employees you may be considering for H-1B status.