United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has announced that it has received enough H-1B visa petitions to meet the cap for fiscal year 2008. The window to petition for visas for fiscal year 2008 opened on April 2, 2007. In the first two days of the petition period, USCIS received almost twice as many petitions (119,193) as there are visas (65,000). As a result, USCIS will apply a random selection process to the petitions received on April 2 and April 3 to determine which will be processed. All petitions not selected for processing will be rejected, as will all petitions received after April 3.
U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require specialized experience or knowledge. Employers now must wait until April 1, 2008 to apply for H-1B visas for fiscal year 2009. Many are urging Congress, which sets the H-1B cap, to pass comprehensive immigration reform and raise the number of H-1B visas issued. "Every year, the application window becomes shorter and shorter, to the point that it is now practically non-existent," said Carlina Tapia-Ruano, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "These high-skilled workers help to keep our system dynamic, and many sectors of the economy will suffer from this shortage."
An additional allotment of visas - 20,000 - is available for foreign workers who hold U.S. Masters degrees. As of April 10, USCIS had received 12,989 "Masters Cap" petitions. We anticipate that the Masters window, too, will close shortly.