On April 5, 2007, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services ("USCIS") announced that, due to extreme demand, the H-1B cap for Fiscal Year 2008 has been reached. Annually, 65,000 new H-1B visas are made available, with an additional 20,000 H-1B visas made available to holders of U.S. master's degrees or higher.

Per regulation, USCIS is in the process of conducting a randomized selection process to determine which petitions will be accorded an H-1B visa number among those received on April 2 and April 3, 2007. USCIS estimates that it received approximately 150,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions on April 2, the first day filings opened for FY 2008. USCIS also estimates that, of those petitions, approximately 13,000 are to be applied to the master's degree cap of 20,000, which would indicate that there still may be H-1B visa numbers available to those beneficiaries who hold a U.S. master's degree or higher.

Fortunately, if you are a physician, you may fall into one of the following categories, and thus you may be exempt from the H-1B cap:

  • A J-1 physician who is the beneficiary of an interested government agency waiver based on his/her commitment to work in a medically underserved area;
  • A physician who was previously granted status as an H-1B nonimmigrant in the past six years and has not left the US for more than one year since attaining that status (such as medical residents or fellows);
  • A physician who is going to be employed by an institution of higher education, such as a college or university;
  • A physician who is going to be employed by a nonprofit entity affiliated with an institution of higher education; or
  • A physician who is going to be employed by a nonprofit research or governmental research organization.