Strategic CIO // Team Building & Staffing
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4/8/2009
10:53 AM
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Weak Economy Dampens Demand For H-1B Visas

One week into the new H-1B visa season, petitions are still being accepted.

On April 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting petitions for employers to hire foreign workers with H-1B visas in fiscal 2010, which starts Oct. 1.

Now, one week into the new H-1B visa season, USCIS is still accepting those petitions. The U.S. government hasn't yet reached the cap of 65,000 petitions for general H-1B visas or the maximum of 20,000 H-1B visa petitions for foreign students who have master's or higher educational degrees from U.S. schools.

The recession was predicted to weaken demand by employers for H-1B visas, the most common visa for hiring foreign technology professionals.

In recent years, while the economy was more robust, USCIS received enough petitions to reach both caps within days. Two years ago, USCIS received more than 130,000 petitions in two days before the agency stopped accepting them. Last year, USCIS stopped accepting petitions within a week.

USCIS says it will continue to monitor the number of H-1B petitions received and will issue a notice when it reaches the 65,000 regular cap and the 20,000 advanced-degree exemption cap. USCIS will advise the public of its final receipt date for physically accepting H-1B petitions at its processing centers.

In the meantime, the government is processing the petitions it's received so far, a USCIS spokeswoman said. "Those are going down the path," she said.

If and when USCIS hits the H-1B cap, petitions received on that final receipt date could be subject to a computerized random selection. "If we receive 20 petitions, but can accept only 10 to reach the cap, those will be randomly selected," said the USCIS spokeswoman.


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