Each year corporate recruiters make offers of employment to foreign students who are scheduled to graduate in May. These graduate-hires don’t need work visas to start work, because they are eligible for one-year work cards as part of their Optional Practical Training (OPT), and those work cards are good until the summer of 2008.

However, employers need to apply now to get H-1B professional work visas for May 2007 graduates. Otherwise, these graduates will not be able to work in the United States after their OPT work cards expire.

The federal immigration law provides for 65,000 new H-1B work visas for each fiscal year, which begins October 1. Employers can and should begin applying for these visas on April 2 (April 1 falls on a Monday this year), because each year the quota, or “cap,” is exhausted earlier. In 2006, the cap was exhausted before the end of May. This year, we expect the cap to be exhausted by the end of April . . . and possibly, even early April.

There are 20,000 additional H-1B visas available to individuals who hold advanced degrees (defined as a Master’s or higher) from U.S. universities. But these are expected to be exhausted by June.

The moral of the story – don’t wait! If you want to hire foreign undergraduates from the class of 2007, contact us no later than March 20, so we can get your paperwork prepared and submitted on Friday,  March 30. If you want to hire foreign students with advanced degrees, contact us no later than April 15. The early bird catches the worm!

The H-1B program allows businesses in the United States to hire foreign nationals in specialty occupations that require a bachelor’s degree and the use of theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields such as the sciences, engineering, computer systems analysis, investment portfolio management, teaching, and marketing. 

Please note: These deadlines do not apply to current H-1B holders who are changing employers or extending their visas; institutions of higher education or their related non-profit entities; or non-profit or governmental research organizations. 

If you need assistance with H-1B visas or have any other immigration-related issues, please contact Penni Bradshaw (336-721-6842) or Jeanette Phelan (336-721-6851).

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