On April 2, 2007, the very first day that new H-1B petitions could be filed for October 1, 2007 start dates, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received more petitions than the 65,000 visas that are available.

Each fiscal year, which begins on October 1, there are 65,000 new H-1B visas made available. But on April 3, the government announced that it had already received approximately 150,000 H-1B petitions, far more than the mandated cap of 65,000 for fiscal year 2008.

USCIS has not yet been able to determine how many of these petitions were filed for those who have received an advanced degree from a U.S. institution of higher education. For people in that category, there are an additional 20,000 H-1B visas set aside each fiscal year. Therefore, at this point, it is impossible to know if that category has also been oversubscribed, and these filings may continue to be made until USCIS announces otherwise.

Because USCIS received more H-1B petitions than the numbers that are available, it will reject any new filings (other than for U.S. Master’s degree holders) received on or after April 4, 2007, and it will subject those petitions received on April 2 and April 3 to a computer-generated random selection process. Petitions received on April 2 and 3, but not randomly selected for H-1B approval, will be rejected by the USCIS, and the filing fees will be returned.

If some of your petitions are not randomly selected for approval, it may be advisable for you to contact us to see if some other visa category could accommodate your employment needs. Sometimes the TN (Treaty NAFTA), J-1 (exchange visitor), O-1 (extraordinary ability), or other classification can be an alternative.

The H-1B filings received on April 2 and 3 far exceeded what anyone had anticipated. Last year, the cap wasn’t reached until May 26, fifty-six days after the filing “gate” opened. This demonstrates very clearly why Congress must act now to add a sufficient number of H-1B visas or to eliminate the cap entirely. If you agree that more visas are needed, please contact your Senators and Congressmen, as well as key leaders on both sides of the aisle, to let them know of the need for action.