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USCIS Announces H-1B Caps for 2012 Filing Season

What is the H-1B Visa Program?

The H-1B Visa program is used to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and the like.

Determining if an H-1B Petition is Subject to the Filing Cap

Part C of the H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement (Form I-129, pages 17 through 19) is used by USCIS to determine if a petition is subject to the 65,000 H-1B filing cap.  Some petitions are exempt from the cap under the advanced degree exemption provided to the first 20,000 petitions filed for a beneficiary who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

FY 2012 H-1B Filing Cap

The USCIS has recently announced the following caps for 2012:

Cap Type 

Cap Amount 

Cap Eligible Petitions  

Date of Last Count

H-1B Regular Cap 




H-1B Master’s Exemption 




Cap Eligible Petitions

This is the number of petitions that USCIS has accepted for this particular type of cap.  It includes cases that have been approved or are still pending.  It does not include petitions that have been denied.

Cap Amounts

The current annual cap on the H-1B category is 65,000. Not all H-1B nonimmigrants are subject to this annual cap. Please note that up to 6,800 visas are set aside from the cap of 65,000 during each fiscal year for the H-1B1 program under the terms of the legislation implementing the U.S.-Chile and U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreements. Unused numbers in this pool are made available for H-1B use for the next fiscal year.

When to File an FY 2012 H-1B Cap-Subject Petition

The USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions for the 2012 cap on April 1, 2011.  You may file an H-1B petition no more than 6-months in advance of the requested start date.

  • Petitions seeking an FY 2012 H-1B cap number with an Oct. 1, 2011 start date can be filed no sooner than April 1, 2011. 

Note:  If you request a start date for a FY 2012 cap-subject H-1B petition that is prior to Oct. 1, 2011 or submit a cap-subject petition prior to April 1, 2011, your petition will be rejected.


Making Sure USCIS Considers Your H-1B Cap-Subject Petition Properly Filed

Completing the following steps is likely to ensure that the petition is properly filed:

    • Complete all sections of the Form I-129 petition, including the H Classification Supplement to Form I-129 (pages 11 and 12 of Form I-129) and the H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement (pages 17 through 19). Form I-129 with a revision date of November 23, 2010, or later, will be accepted.
      • Original signatures, preferably in blue ink, are required on each form. 
    • Make sure the check or money order is in the correct amount for fees.
    • Submit all required documentation and evidence with the petition at the time of filing to ensure timely processing. 

Note: It is the petitioner’s responsibility to ensure that Form I-129 is completed accurately.  Failure to complete Form I-129 with the correct information and provide the required fees or documentation may result in the rejection or denial of the H-1B petition.

Additionally, be sure to file the petition at the correct USCIS Service Center.  USCIS rejects all H-1B petitions filed at the wrong location.  See section below on “Where to Mail Your H-1B Cap-Subject Petition” as well as “Additional Documents Required With Your Petition.”

We are immigration attorneys handing Work Visas under the H-1B Visa Program for highly qualified foreign nationals.  If you would like more information, you can submit your case for review with an immigration attorney, or call our office at 314.645.7900.

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