Companies hoping to hire certain foreign workers now will have to wait a year. The government’s fiscal 2008 quota has already been met.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it had received enough H-1B visa petitions from foreigners seeking work to meet the congressionally mandated cap for that fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
The final date for receipt of petitions had been April 2. Petitioners now may re-submit petitions on April 1, 2008, when H-1B visas become available for fiscal 2009. Under those visas, employment could start no earlier than Oct. 1, 2008.
American companies use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
Under the H-1B program the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor require employers to meet specific labor conditions to ensure that American workers are not adversely impacted. DOL’s Wage and Hour Division safeguards the treatment and compensation of H-1B workers
Under the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004, the first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of aliens with U.S.-earned masters or higher degrees are exempt from any fiscal year cap on available H-1B visas.
The USCIS said it does not yet know how many petitions it has received, since petitions are mixed with the cap-subject cases received this month. It added that it will make a future announcement regarding the “final receipt date” for these petitions.
In addition, petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers do not count toward the congressionally mandated H-1B cap. Thus, the USCIS will continue to process petitions filed to extend the time a current H-1B worker may remain in the country, to change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers, to allow current H-1B workers to change employers, and to allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position.