Yesterday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that the H-1B cap has been reached for the Fiscal Year 2013, which begins October 1, 2012. Accordingly, no H-1B petitions can be filed until April 1, 2013, for potential employees who are cap-subject to be able to begin working on October 1, 2013.

Each fiscal year, the law permits 20,000 "master cap" cases for the H-1B beneficiaries who have obtained graduate degrees from U.S. universities and 65, 000 "regular cap" cases. In most instances, cap-subject individuals are those who are acquiring H-1B status for the first time, such as international students who are seeking to change status from F-1 to H-1B or those who are seeking to enter the U.S. for the first time on H-1B status.

Accordingly, those who have already obtained H-1B status and are merely seeking to change employers or extend the H-1B status for additional years are not subject to the cap. Certain employer are exempt from the cap including: (1) institutions of higher education, (2) a nonprofit organizations affiliated with an institution of higher education, and (3) nonprofit or governmental research organizations. Individuals who have been working for a "cap exempt" employer and are seeking to change to a "cap-subject" employer must wait for an available visa beginning on October 1, 2013.