Can't find enough highly skilled American employees? Consider getting an H-1B visa for temporary, specialized foreign workers. While the 1999 quota has already been filled, you can apply for a 2000 visa now and start using those workers as early as this month.
"We have 15 people coming on H-1B visas per month from Oct. 15 through Mar. 15," says Don Lawrence, director of marketing at InterSoft Technologies Inc. in Westford, Mass. Out of 65 employees, 52 have H-1B visas.
How do you snag one of these visas? By being speedy. "It's a first-come, first-serve basis," says Michael Turansick, chair of the American Immigration Lawyer's Association in New York and a partner at Fragomen, Del Ray, Bersen & Loewy. "Small businesses are in the same position as Citibanks."
Turansick expects the 115,000 year-2000 H-1B visas to go as early as mid-February. To get an application, call 800 870-3676 and ask for Form I-129. You'll pay a $110 application fee and a $500 "education fee" toward training U.S. workers.