H-1B visa cap has been reached one week after the season opened. USCIS announced today (April 5, 2013) that it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach both the regular H-1B cap and the advanced degree exemption cap. As a result, USCIS will no longer accept H-1B petitions for the entire fiscal year 2014, which runs from October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014.
For all valid petitions received between April 1 and 5, USCIS will use a random selection process (“lottery”) to pick the winners, starting with the advanced degree petitions (20,000 total). Those not selected will become part of the regular cap (65,000) selection process. Keep in mind that USCIS will continue to accept and process H-1B petitions not subject to the annual cap, such as current H1B workers changing jobs or beneficiaries who will work at institutions of higher education.
H-1B visa consumption has been accelerating over the past four years, as shown in the graph below. In 2010, it took almost 10 months to reach the FY-2011 cap. The following year it was 7 months. But in 2012, all H-1B visas were allocated in 2 months, and this year: 1 week!
Update 4/8/2013: USCIS has completed the random selection process.
USCIS received approximately 124,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 7, 2013, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process (commonly known as a “lottery”) to select a sufficient number of petitions needed to meet the caps of 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 under the advanced degree exemption limit. For cap-subject petitions not randomly selected, USCIS will reject and return the petition with filing fees, unless it is found to be a duplicate filing. – USCIS