One and done: 2008 H-1B visa cap reached in <24hrs

April 4, 2007 – A year ago the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached its limit of H-1B visas for fiscal 2007 (starting Oct.2006) in about two months, met with much fanfare and dismay.

Ah, the good old days.

Just one day after opening up the application process for 2008 H-1B visas, the USCIS says it has already well exceeded its cap of 65,000 available spots, setting records for both speed and volume (150,000 applications for just 65,000 visas). Any application received on or after April 4 will be rejected.

Immigration reform including raising the cap on H-1B visas is “one of our top three public policy priorities,” according to a spokesperson for the Semiconductor Industry Association, adding that the issue was addressed recently during meetings among industry CEOs members of Congress.

Last fall the SIA issued a statement urging Congress to raise the H-1B visa cap, as well as make permanent the R&D tax credit and pass an appropriations bill for scientific research.

The USCIS says it will randomly select final recipients of H-1B visas for fiscal 2008, a process that will take several weeks due to the high volume of filings, and necessitate spreading data entry across several service centers. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed from foreigners with a masters’ PhD degree from a US institution. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers do not count toward the congressionally mandated H-1B cap.

Last year’s H-1B cap (for fiscal 2007, starting in Oct. 2006) was reached at the end of May 2006, about two months after the USCIS started accepting applications. It took four months to fill the fiscal 2006 H-1B cap.

Petitioners may re-submit petitions on April 1, 2008, when H-1B visas become available for fiscal year 2009, with a start date of Oct. 2008.

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