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Science Careers Blog

July 16, 2009

H-1B Visas for Current Year Still Available

The technology trade magazine Information Week reports that some 20,000 H-1B visas, used to bring high-skilled temporary workers to the United States, are still available for the current fiscal year. Immigration law sets an annual quota of 65,000 H-1B visas, and to date the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received 44,900 visa petitions.

That number--65,000--applies to skilled workers at any level of educational attainment. A separate quota of 20,000, reserved for foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions, was met soon after they became available in April 2009.   In the 2 previous years, the quota for all H-1B visas, requested by companies seeking to hire skilled foreign staff, was met within a few days.

One reason for the lower demand may be sharp cut-backs by Indian outsourcing companies. Infosys, an Indian technology company with a large outsourcing business, told the Business Standard newspaper that it has filed 405 visa applications so far this year, well down from 4,800 the company requested last year. The newspaper says Infosys's two main competitors, Wipro and TCS, are also believed to have asked for far fewer H-1B visas, but the companies did not divulge any numbers.

The H-1B program has recently come under increasing scrutiny, with support for the program diminishing on Capitol Hill.  

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