Courtesy of AILA:
At the New York CLE on December 1, 2009, USCIS representatives discussed H-1B usage. Without revealing the exact number of H-1B petitions have been received, nor providing an estimate of the number of H-1B visas remaining, USCIS indicated that there has been an “uptick” in receipts in the last two weeks, including approximately 2000 received in the days before Thanksgiving. USCIS also confirmed that demand for visas under the Chile and Singapore provisions has been very small this year. USCIS has, for several years, estimated the demand for Chile/Singapore visas, and has set aside that estimated number. The remaining number of visas that are set aside for Chile and Singapore (from maximums of 1,400 for nationals of Chile and 5,400 for nationals of Singapore) are returned to the “general” H-1B pool, and USCIS accepts petitions up to a number that includes an estimate of the number of Chile and Singapore visas that will go unused. Thus, though the Chile/Singapore set aside reduces initially the H-1B cap from 65,000 to 58,200, in reality, some number of thousand unused Chile/Singapore visas are added back in, bringing the number of H-1B visas generally available well above 58,200. That is why, according to the latest H-1B cap count, the number, 58,900, exceeds 58,200. Nevertheless, because of the apparent increase in demand, members should not delay preparing and filing H-1B petitions and should warn clients that the cap could be reached at any moment if the increase in demand continues.
Update: The H-1B Cap was reached on December 22nd, 2009.