The new set of H-1B visa spots for fiscal year 2009 will become available on October 1, 2008. Employers must file for these fiscal year 2009 spots on April 1, 2008. The petitions should be sent by overnight courier on March 31, 2008 to arrive physically at USCIS on April 1, 2008.

There are two H-1B quotas: the main quota of 65,000 spots and a separate quota of 20,000 spots for persons with U.S. advanced degrees. It is anticipated that USCIS will receive well more than 65,000 regular quota H-1B petitions on April 1, the first day of filing. Assuming the quota is exceeded on the first day, USCIS will conduct a lottery to pick which 65,000 petitions will be processed. The rest will be returned.

Last year the U.S. advanced degree quota of 20,000 spots remained open for a few weeks, but it could be exceeded on the first day of filing this year. As with the regular quota, employers should file for the advanced degree quota on April 1, 2008. The petitions should be sent by overnight courier on March 31, 2008 to arrive physically at USCIS on April 1, 2008.

The April 1 filing date generally applies only to persons entering H-1B status for the first time. H-1B extension petitions for persons already in H-1B status with a for-profit employer are generally not subject to the quota.