In a statement, US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap for fiscal year 2011.
Given that some 11,000 H-1B visas were still available at the end of 2010, USCIS received an unusually high number of applications in the first four weeks of this month.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the US which allows American companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.
In 2009, the cap of 65,000 was reached on Dec 21. In 2008, the cap was reached on Apr 8 and the USCIS had to resort to computerised draw of lots to determine successful applicants.
Till a couple of years ago, the cap in H-1B visas was reached in the first few days of USCIS starting to accept applications.
USCIS is notifying the public that January 26 is the final receipt date for new H-1B specialty occupation petitions requesting an employment start date in fiscal year (FY) 2011.
Properly filed cases will be considered received on the date that USCIS physically receives the petition; not the date that the petition was postmarked.
USCIS will reject cap-subject petitions for new H-1B specialty occupation workers seeking an employment start date in FY2011 that arrive after Jan 26, 2011, the statement said.
On Dec 22 last year, USCIS had also received more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the ''advanced degree'' exemption.
It will, however, continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap, USCIS said.