The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has cut off requests from foreign nationals to change their employment status for the rest of 2007, in a move that could impact many high-tech start-ups that depend on such workers.

If a Silicon Valley company brings in a worker from India on a temporary visa, for example, and wants to hire them permanently, any requests won’t even be considered until next year. A worker with a job offer on table won’t know whether they’ll have an option to take that offer for several months — raising significant hurdles for fast moving start-ups. This also comes at a time when some companies are seeking to bring people back to the U.S. after hiring them abroad. We mentioned the example of Riya earlier this morning: After seeing wage inflation for its Indian workers, Riya decided to move those workers back to Mountain View, Calif.

A departmental “visa bulletin” said the change was due to “the sudden backlog reduction efforts” by immigration offices during the past months, which resulted in the “use of almost 60,000 employment numbers.”

A posting on the web site of law firm Duane Morris called this an “unprecedented action” and went on to say that the American Immigration Law Foundation is contemplating litigation due to the impact on “eligible applicants and sponsoring employers.”

The bulletin said that employment preference numbers will once again be available beginning October 1, 2007, when the department’s 2008 fiscal year begins.

Via Y Combinator News.

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