H-1B visas attract double the petitions in US

April 11th, 2008 - 10:04 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 11 (IANS) The US authorities received about 163,000 petitions for H-1B temporary work visas for highly skilled immigrants for the fiscal year starting Oct 1, officials said Thursday. The number of petitions is nearly double the number of visas available. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will conduct an electronic lottery sometime next week to select 85,000 immigrants to receive the H-1B visas, which are valid for three years and renewable for another three. Out of these, 20,000 are for those applicants who have a master’s or higher degree from the US.

The USCIS started receiving the applications from the US employers April 1 and stopped this Tuesday after the window remained open for the minimum five days.

Although petitions for the 2009 fiscal year increased by over 20 percent over the previous year, immigration officials and lawyers had expected an even higher number.

Calls from US technology companies to raise the annual cap saw a new bill introduced in the Congress. On Thursday, senators led by John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, moved the bill to raise the H-1B cap to 145,000 visas each year till 2011.

It would also allow US businesses to use, over a three-year period, some 150,000 visas that were available in past years but were never issued.

The bill also includes a measure that will bar the growing use of H-1B visas by major Indian tech companies to bring workers for short term jobs as part of outsourcing contracts and make it mandatory for companies to employ H-1B workers only at their own offices in the US.

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