Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, the USCIS announced that the 85,000 H-1B visas cap for 2012 had been reached. This means that American employers will not be able to hire foreign nationals in 2012 unless applications for their work visas have been submitted prior to November 23, 2011. This sounds pretty restrictive, especially considering how vital high tech expertise is to the growing digital and mobile technology sectors.
The pace of reaching the H-1B cap can be used as an indicator of economic recovery. Prior to the recession, the H-1B cap was typically reached within one week of April 1st, when it first became available. This year, it took almost eight months to reach the cap. In 2010, it took almost ten months (the H-1B cap was reached on January 26th of this year), and in 2009, it took close to nine months (the cap was reached on December 21st, 2010). So, by comparison to 2010 and 2009, reaching the H-1B cap on November 22 of this year appears to signal slight economic recovery.
There is a lot of criticism of the H-1B caps. One of the opponents is NYC Mayor Bloomberg, who in September 2011 spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in favor of eliminating the caps and lifting other restrictions that make it difficult for foreign entrepreneurs to work in the United States. http://bit.ly/tE2aHO Both the U.S. House and the Senate are currently considering proposals relating to H-1B visas, caps and making green cards available to graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees.
The text of the USCIS release can be found here: http://1.usa.gov/vMJIxs.