The USCIS H-1B Visa Cap for 2012

On November 23, 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it reached the cap for H-1B work visa applications for 2012. There were 56, 000 petitions accepted for fiscal year 2012 and that number was the cap for that year. This means that for H1B visa petitions requiring a 2012 employment start date, the final receipt date for petitions was Nov. 22, 2011. Any H-1B visa application with a requested 2012 start date that arrives after Nov. 22, 2011 and is subject to the cap will be denied. This is the case even if the applications are postmarked before Nov. 22, 2011.

However, some H-1B work visa applications are not subject to caps because they are exempt under the “advanced degree” policy. If you are applying for an H1B visa and belong in this category, you may still be able to apply with an employment start date in fiscal year 2012. As of 19 October 2011, more than 20 000 H-1B work visa applications have been received by the USCIS from applicants who are exempt from the cap. Such applications will continue to be processed. Petitions involving current H-1B visa holders may also be exempt from the FY 2012 H-1B cap. The USCIS will continue to process H1B visa applications filed on behalf of some applicants, including:

  1. Current H-1B visa holders seeking to extend their stay in the US
  2. Current H1B visa holders who wish to change the terms of their employment.
  3. Current H-1B work visa holders who want to change their place of work or employer
  4. Current H-1B visa holders looking to work in a second H-1B visa employment position at the same time as their current position.

If you already have an H1B visa and hope to apply for one of the above petitions, the 2012 cap may not affect you. You can still file for these petitions.

If, however, you hope to start work in 2012 and do not have an advanced degree and are affected by the cap, you may need to change your employment plans, seek another visa option, or wait in order to apply for fiscal year 2013. To find out more about the USCIS fiscal year caps for the H-1B visa, visit the USCIS website ( If you are an employer and need to hire more H-1B visa workers in fiscal year 2012, you may also need to wait until fiscal year 2013 or you may need to find other employment solutions for your business.