As of August 28, 2009, USCIS has received approximately 45,000 H-1B petitions subject to the bachelor’s degree cap, of which there are 65,000 visas each fiscal year. Also, USCIS announced that it has received approximately 20,000 petitions subject to the advanced degree cap exemption. Even though the limit is 20,000 for this cap, USCIS states that it will continue to accept advanced degree petitions, noting that not all petitions received are approvable.
Employers can continue to file H-1B petitions for a start date before October 1, 2010, so long as H-1B numbers are available. However, the start cannot be more than six months in advance of the date of preparation on the Form ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application (LCA), which is filed with the Department of Labor. The employer must file a certified LCA in support of the H-1B petition with USCIS. Currently, the DOL is taking 7 days to certify an LCA, unless it requests evidence verifying the employer’s information.