It's a race for America's cap.
Today, employers around the country will submit as many H1-B visa applications as they can, hoping to get federal approval before the cap of 80,000 is triggered.
Immigration reform will no doubt expand the H1-B program, but for the next year, at least, only 80,000 new visas will be issued. The visas expire in six years, meaning that many researchers, post-docs, and young technology workers may be forced to go home simply because... well, because their application was not processed in time, or because someone else bumped them out of the way.
Neil Ruiz of the Brookings Institute says that the cap was met in just 10 weeks last year, implying that demand for the visas far outpaces the artificial limit that Congress has imposed on these specific skill work permits.
Ironically, the quicker the cap is met this year, the more pressure there will be on Congress to pass legislation expanding it.