H1B Usage During First Three Weeks of FY13 Cap Season

For the past four weeks, starting on April 2, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been accepting H1B petitions to be counted against the fiscal year 2013 (FY13) H1B Cap. As of the latest count at the time of this writing (through April 20th), the USCIS has received approximately 10,900 petitions against the advanced-degree (masters) cap exemptions, and approximately 25,000 cases against the regular quota. We analyze the trends at this early point in the FY13 H1B cap filing season for the benefit of MurthyDotCom readers.

Background: H1B Numbers and Dates

As regular readers of MurthyDotCom and the MurthyBulletin know, there are approximately 65,000 H1B cap numbers made available each fiscal year. An additional 20,000 H1B cap exemptions are allocated to individuals who have received a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. college or university. The H1B filings for FY13 began on April 2, 2012 and will continue until the cap is reached. The earliest start date for H1B cap cases is on or after October 1, 2012. The USCIS provides a running count of cap filings, available through a link on the main page of MurthyDotCom. After the issuance of three sets of official USCIS data regarding FY13 cap filings, it is possible to draw some inferences regarding the 2013 H1B cap season, and the prospects for future H1B filings.

Initial Reports: High Filing Rates

The first reports regarding H1B usage for FY13 were something of a surprise to many. It was announced at a USCIS stakeholders meeting on April 5, 2012, that approximately 22,323 cap-subject H1B petitions had been received in the first three days of filing. This was more than double the rate of filings in the same timeframe during FY12.

This rate of usage suggested that the H1B cap could be completely exhausted in only a few weeks, if it were to continue at the same pace. These reports caused alarm among employers and potential H1B applicants, who had believed previously that they would have at least several months to file H1B cap-subject cases for FY13. This was based upon experiences in recent years; the FY12 H1B cap was not exhausted until November 2011.

Subsequent Reports: Filings Not Continuing at Initial Pace

Following the first reports regarding H1B receipts, it has become apparent that the initial rate of filing was something of an anomaly. Since that time, the USCIS has released three official reports on the H1B filings, which have confirmed that the actual rate of H1B filing, thus far, is nowhere near as high as the initial data suggested. The official USCIS receipt numbers break down as follows, and are listed by date.

Date of USCIS Count

Bachelor’s Cap

Master’s Cap



Average of about 5,000 H1B Filings Weekly

It is clear that, after the initial rush of filings, H1B cap number usage to date has settled into a pattern more consistent with the past several cap seasons – approximately 5,000 combined H1B cap filings per week. This rate of usage suggests that the H1B cap could likely remain open for several more months, unless the pace of filings accelerates. Typically, there is a spike in filings once it appears that there is a real danger of the cap being reached.

Possible Explanation of Initial Filings

There has been no confirmed explanation of the reason for the initial increase in H1B filings. Some of the increase in the number of petitions filed in the first few days of the cap season was likely attributable to some favorable economic changes. Much of the increase is believed to be the result of pent up demand for H1B visas among larger corporate petitioners. Many multinational companies have encountered difficulties obtaining L-1 status for their workers, due to the current trends in the L-1 category. The H1B is often the alternative for such workers.

Companies have been unable to file for new H1B employees for more than four months. Companies able to plan months in advance for hiring new workers or shifting employees to the U.S. from abroad would have been able to prepare H1B petitions in advance, and submit them during the first few days of the filing period. Once this initial rush of H1B filings was submitted, the H1B filings returned to a rate more consistent with the past few fiscal years.

Predictions for the Rest of the Cap Season

It is impossible for anyone to predict the future usage of H1B visas with any degree of certainty. While the rate of H1B filing has leveled off since the first few days, the pace has been steady. The cap season appears that it probably will be shorter than FY12. It always makes sense for employers to file cap-subject H1B petitions as soon as possible. As of this writing, there still many H1B cap numbers available, and no indication that the cap will be exhausted in the immediate future. There should still be enough time to prepare and file H1B cases for FY13, but it is always best to avoid unnecessary delays as there are always some cases that do not make it in time for the cap. We at the Murthy Law Firm, will continue to watch the cap count carefully, and will inform MurthyDotCom and MurthyBulletin readers of any further reliable information on the FY13 H1B cap.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.