The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the H-1B Cap for Fiscal Year 2008 has been met for those individuals who have earned an advanced degree (master's degree or higher) from a U.S. institution. There are 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for these advanced degree candidates. The regular H-1B Cap of 60,000 H-1B visas for professionals possessing the minimum of a baccalaureate degree was filled on April 2, 2007, the first date of filing petitions for FY2008. H-1B visas are still available for citizens of Chile and Singapore, and E-3 visas are available for degreed professionals from Australia.
The earliest employers will be able to petition for a new H-1B visa will be October 1, 2008. These petitions can be filed with the USCIS as early as April 1, 2008, and we do encourage employers to file early to ensure availability of one of the visa numbers that will become available for Fiscal Year 2009 (which begins October 1, 2008).
Employers should take into account when interviewing candidates who may need visa sponsorship that the unavailability of H-1B visa numbers can have a negative impact on their recruitment needs. We also encourage employers to contact their local member of Congress to request that immigration reform be addressed, and specifically, to voice concern that the current quota of 85,000 H-1B visa numbers is simply inadequate to fulfill the needs of U.S. employers.
Please remember that the cap only applies to new H-1B cases, and not to extensions of an H-1B visa or a transfer of an H-1B visa from one employer to another.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about how these numbers might affect the hiring of foreign nationals.