U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on February 17 that "it has received enough H-1B petitions to meet this year's [2004] congressionally mandated cap of 65,000 new workers. After today, USCIS will not accept any new H-1B petitions for first-time employment subject to the FY 2004 annual cap." Cases that are not subject to the annual cap, including petitions filed by institutions of higher education, will continue to be accepted and processed.

"USCIS has implemented the following procedure for the remainder of FY 2004:

  • USCIS will process all petitions filed for first-time employment received by the end of business today.
  • USCIS will return all petitions for first-time employment subject to the annual cap received after the end of business today.
  • Returned petitions will be accompanied by the filing fee
  • Petitioners may re-submit their petitions when H-1B visas become available for FY 2005
  • The earliest date a petitioner may file a petition requesting FY 2005 H-1B employment with an employment start date of October 1, 2004, would be April 1, 2004. AMDOC#: 200402012