The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting H-1B visa petitions on April 1 for fiscal year 2012 (Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012) [USCIS News Release, 4/8/11].
The H-1B visa is used by U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in areas of specialized knowledge or technical expertise, such as scientists, engineers, or computer professionals. U.S. employers that apply for the visa must prove that there are no qualified U.S. workers that could fill the position, and must ensure that the H-1B visa holders are paid the same as their U.S. counterparts.
There is a congressionally mandated annual cap of 65,000 for H-1B visas, plus a 20,000 cap for workers with a U.S. master's degree or higher. As of April 8, USCIS had received 5,900 H-1B petitions counting against the 65,000 cap, and approximately 4,500 petitions counting against the 20,000 cap. Petitions filed by employers who are exempt from the cap, as well as petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been previously counted against the cap in the past six years, will not count against the fiscal year 2012 cap.
Earlier this year, USCIS announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B visa petitions to reach the congressionally mandated cap of 65,000 for fiscal year 2011.