USCIS is reporting that as of November 6th, 54,900 H-1Bs had been issued against the 65,000 annual quota. While this represents a dramatic drop in H-1B applications over previous years. In 2007, nearly 200,000 applications were filed in the first week applications were open and in 2009, the application period is now in its seventh month. Usage seems to be about 1,000 cases a week so we're probably looking at January or February to run out of numbers.
Incidentally, yesterday I was the moderator of a panel on the impact of the global recession on national migration policies in Amsterdam. One of my panelists was a senior executive at a well-known global IT consulting company that has been a heavy user of H-1B visas in years past. He mentioned that the company has shifted substantially to hiring local talent as much as possible in the many countries where it operates, particularly as rising unemployment has made more talented workers available. He noted that it is usually much cheaper to hire workers in the country where they are operating than having to send in foreign workers (no lawyer fees, immigration filing fees, transportation costs, assistance with relocation needs, language and cultural training, etc.). Aside from the economic downturn, this could be part of the reason why H-1B usage is down so much particularly with IT consulting companies.
I'm off to London to speak at a panel at the International Bar Association's global immigration conference and will be attending tomorrow and Friday so blogging will likely be lighter than normal.