If you are currently employing individuals in F-1 or J-1 status, or through an Employment Authorization Document with no other underlying nonimmigrant immigration status, you may need to consider filing an H-1B petition for such employees. H-1B petitions can be filed six months in advance of the requested started date. Therefore, petitions seeking the first available starting date for next fiscal year, October 1, 2008, can be filed starting April 1, 2008.

The annual H-1B cap is 65,000, of which 6,800 are reserved for nationals of Chile and Singapore. An additional 20,000 H-1B visa numbers are available for individuals who have received Masters degrees or higher from U.S. universities. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services bureau is anticipating that the number of petitions received on April 1 will exceed the regular cap and that the number received for beneficiaries with advance degrees from U.S. universities may exceed the socalled “masters cap” as well. Therefore, it is important to contact your immigration professional as soon as possible in order to plan for any H-1B petitions you may need to file.

Certain institutions of higher education and governmental or nonprofit research organizations are exempt from the cap and consequently may file petitions at any time. Unless your organization has been determined to qualify under an exemption, you should seek competent legal advice in reviewing the possible exempt status of your organization or company.