In an excellent academic article, researchers at UC Davis summarize trends in US immigration over the last quarter.
H-1B. On April 1, 2009, USCIS made H-1B visas available for FY10. There were far fewer employer requests than the 163,000 received in five days in April 2008 for FY09 visas. Some 65,000 H-1B visas, plus 20,000 for foreigners who have earned Masters and Doctorates from US universities, are available each year to profit-making employers. There is no cap on the number of H-1B visas available to nonprofit universities and research labs.
USCIS reported 32,500 requests for the 65,000 general H-1B visas in the first five days of April 2009, and almost 20,000 requests for the 20,000 for advanced degrees.
USCIS in March 2009 reported that the top recipient of H-1B visas in FY08 was Infosys Technologies, which had 4,560 H-1B petitions approved. Like Infosys, six of the top 10 users of the H-1B program were outsourcing firms that bring foreign workers into the US, usually from India, and move them from firm to firm. The largest US-based user of H-1B visas in FY08 was Microsoft, which received 1,035. The list of leading H-1B employers in FY08 was similar to that in FY07 and earlier years.
The title of the article is, “Labor: Recession, H1-B.”
In their analysis, the economic downturn in the US is changing strong recent trends in professional and technical immigration, and is illuminating long-standing arguments between immigrant-rights groups, large technical employers, and technology worker groups who make accusations of ageism and failed regulation leading to unfair hiring practices in high-tech industries.
I recommend reading the entire article.