Employers should prepare now to file H-1B petitions for their professional-level prospective foreign employees on April 1, 2007. That is the first allowable filing date for work to begin on October 1, which is the first day of the 2008 government fiscal year. Given the serious backlog that has been created because of the high demand for the limited number of visas in this classification, there is a real possibility that the entire allocation of 65,000 visas (the Cap) could be reached on or within several days of the April 1 initial filing date.

An additional 20,000 H-1Bs are available for individuals who hold a master's degree or higher from an accredited U.S. educational institution, but these "slots" may also be used up in record time this year because of the pent-up demand.

In the absence of new legislation that is much hoped-for but hardly certain, once these allocations are gone new H-1B visas will be unavailable for another full year. Workers who already have held H-1B status may be exempt. Employees of certain employers, including non-profit and governmental research institutions, most universities, and entities affiliated with them, are also categorically exempt from the cap.

We encourage employers to review the visa status of all current and prospective foreign employees and consult one of the attorneys in the Immigration Group about filing an H-1B petition within this limited time frame. There are limited visa options for employees who are unable to qualify under this visa classification.