If you've been planning to bring in a foreign worker under the government's H-1B visa program in 2001, it might be time to consider Plan B. By the end of January, the entire year's allotment of H-1B visas--all 107,500 of them--will be spoken for, according to the American Business for Legal Immigration Coalition.

The Immigration & Naturalization Service has a backlog of 80,000 H-1B visa applications, including 50,000 left over from last year, and new requests are coming in at a rate of 14,000 a month, the coalition says.

Help could be on the way. Congress is considering legislation to raise the number of visas to 195,000. The question is whether lawmakers will get to it before adjourning this fall. "It's obviously a very tight time frame," says Lynn Shotwell, the coalition's legal guru. Should the deadline pass without a vote, the cap could also be raised as part of the omnibus spending bill during Congress' next session, which begins January 3.

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