Economic recovery means accelerated H-1B visa submissions and less time to beat the cap
The cap of 65,000 H-1Bs plus an additional 20,000 H-1Bs for those with U.S. graduate degrees, opens on April 1, 2013, for a start-date of October 1, 2013 and we are trying to predict when the cap will be used up. In the last few years, the cap was not exhausted for several months. Last year the cap was exhausted on June 11, 2012, which was over two months after it was opened.
Prior to the economic crisis the situation was very different. Sometimes over 150,000 H-1B petitions were received by USCIS on April 1st in one year, which led to the creation of a lottery whereby cases were chosen at random for processing in a number up to the cap limit. The petitions which were not chosen for the lottery were returned unopened and unprocessed to the petitioning employer regardless of the quality of the case or the prestige or size of the petitioning employer.
This year the news is that the cap will be reached early because of growing signs of economic recovery. Most immigration lawyers are predicting that the cap will be exhausted even earlier this year than last year. Although I have not yet heard any whispers or rumors that we will be facing another lottery because of excess demand, there is always the possibility that this may be the case.