April 1 is the start date for the Citizenship and Immigration Services to accept H1B petitions for the new fiscal year. Today is also April Fool’s Day and if a company needs a high-tech worker, but doesn’t apply within the next couple of days, the chances of them getting a visa are the joke.

Petitions are expected to exceed the annual the cap of 65,000 either today or in the next few days. That means that anyone looking to hire a highly-skilled foreign-born candidate who has not applied on April 1 will likely not be able to hire that talented individual this year – and this is not a new phenomenon.

Each year, even during the darkest days of the economic turndown, the cap was reached before the end of the year. As a result, the U.S. is losing highly-educated and highly-skilled talent to other countries. Thousands of students come to the U.S. from around the world to enroll in our colleges and universities, but when they’re done with their programs we send them back home to compete against us due to a lack of visas.  This system needs to be fixed and we are on the verge of making that happen.

In February, Senators Hatch, Klobuchar, Rubio and Coons introduced the Innovation Immigration Act or I-Squared Act. The bill focuses on this problem as well as the long-time back-log of green cards. The NAM sent a letter in support of this legislation and is now submitting a letter along with nearly 60 companies and organizations that see the need for reform and see the I-squared bill as the best way forward.

Today is the annual milestone that often marks the broken system and we are putting forward our support for legislation that will change it. We need to stop playing the fool and start focusing on policies that will strengthen our economy – enacting I-Squared through a common-sense immigration reform package will do just that.

Joe Trauger is vice president of human resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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