The picture seems a little less bleak for those planning to go to the US via the H1-B route. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the allotted 65,000 visas from October 2003 to September 2004 is likely to last until sometime in the spring of 2004.
However, the USCIS has said that it will provide a projected date for reaching the cap at the end of January 2004. (Is a job in the US still your dream?)
In mid-December deputy director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services William R Yates told American Immigration Lawyers Association, (AILA) We are not near the cap at this time. As I stated last week we will release information at the end of January regarding where we stand and at that time will decide whether we need to notify customers of a projected cap date. Of course it is theoretically possible that we could reach the cap by the end of the calendar year but we would have to receive record levels of filings. I still believe that we will hit the cap this spring, but I wont be more specific until I see the numbers in January.
Part of the reason why it is believed that the cap will only be met by spring, is the number of cap-subject filings made to date. However, immigration attorneys in the US are still advising against delays in application.
The fact is that there were 18,000 pending H-1B applications from the fiscal year ending September 30, 2003.
Reviewing of these petitions started from the beginning of fiscal year 2004, that is October 1. Of these petitions those approved for visas would count against the cap (65,000) of the fiscal year 2004. On top of that, nearly 7,000 H1-B visas have been set aside for Singapore and Chile under the free trade agreements.