Saturday, April 7, 2012

H1B Quota...already one-third cap reached (?)

According to field estimates, anywhere from 25-33% of the 65,000 H1B quota is already reached. As of April 6, 2012, 16,700 cap subject and 5,600 cap exempt applications are estimated to have been filed. Last year, on April 7, 2011, these numbers were 5,900 cap subject, and 4,500 cap exempt. Last year, the cap subject number of 16,000 was not reached until June 28, however, the cap exempt number was  almost the same by April 18th. The cap exempt numbers are for professionals who received masters degree from the U.S. If the 2012 exempt numbers are about the same as those from 2011, that could mean that not a significant number of applicants filed on the basis of U.S. earned masters degree. That goes against the usual trend in the face of rising unemployment. In other words, when unemployment rises, more people attend graduate programs. That is not the case here, so as far as H1b workers are concerned, there seems to be optimism about economic recovery. Now, let's break down the unemployment numbers. On April 6, 2012 the unemployment rate dropped to 8.2%. In 2011, the unemployment rate near 8% was in November; at 8.6%. And even before then, in August 2011, the number was 9.4%. The drop from August 2011 to November 2011 was nearly 8.5%, whereas, the drop from November 2011 to April 2012 was only 5%. So, when unemployment rate dropped at a slower rate, more cap subject applications were filed; almost three times as many as last year. What explains this mystery? Again, optimism in the private sector's employment recovery. Is that outlook supported by the data? Well, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on April 6, 2012, majority of gains in the jobs were in the manufacturing, healthcare, finance, and other private sector jobs, whereas, the least growth was in the public sector jobs. As far as pure number crunching, the public sector job loss contributes to a perspective of slow recovery. However, the private sector job gains were in the areas where majority of the H1B applications are filed (private sector engineering, information technology, finance, and healthcare). This could explain more applicants (actually, employers) rushing to file cap subject H1b applications.

So, what to do?
Well, if you have a cap subject application, file it now. If the applications continue to be filed at the current rate, the quota will run out well before October.

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