On January 27, 2011, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had received enough H-1B visa petitions to reach the annual statutory cap of 65,000 for fiscal year 2011. FY 2011 began on October 1, 2010, but USCIS began receiving H-1B petitions subject to the FY 2011 cap six months earlier, on April 1, 2010.
U.S. employers may use the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields requiring a bachelor's degree or higher, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
In previous years, the 65,000 cap was reached days after USCIS began accepting petitions, but for FY 2010, the cap was not reached until December 21, 2009.
As of December 22, 2010, USCIS had also received a sufficient number of H-1B visa petitions for foreign workers with advanced degrees, who are subject to a separate 20,000 cap, to reach that cap.
Not all H-1B nonimmigrants are subject to the statutory cap, so employers may still be able to hire some workers under the H-1B program. Additionally, employers should consider whether there are alternatives to the H-1B visa category if they wish to hire foreign workers subject to the cap.