The United States has received a whopping 250,000 H-1B applications this year, nearly four times the official cap for the most sought-after work visa for highly-skilled workers, with a majority of them being from either Indian companies or those having huge footprint in India.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it has reached the Congress-mandated cap of 65,000 for H-1B visas in the general category for Financial Year 2017.
The USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the US advanced degree exemption for those who completed higher education in the US in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, it said on Friday.
It did not give the number of H-1B petitions received since 1 April, when it started accepting applications for this visa for the fiscal year 2017 beginning 1 October, but said the successful petitions would be determined by a computerised draw of lots. Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date it will conduct the random selection process.
The USCIS will first randomly select petitions for the advanced degree exemption. All unselected advanced degree petitions will become part of the random selection process for the 65,000 general cap. The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.
"We had 230,000 H-1B visa petitions last year. I think this year it is going to be higher. We think 250,000 H-1B petitions were filed this year," Bill Stock, incoming president of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and a founding partner of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, said.
This is the fourth consecutive year that the Congress-mandated cap has been reached in the first five days of the filing. A majority of these estimated H-1B visa applications are certainly either by companies that have Indian owners like TCS or companies that have substantial operations or development centres in India like IBM, Stock said.
"The recent increase on certain category of H-1B visas may have had a little impact on Indian companies. But I think their business so much depends on H-1B and being able to send people on projects, they (Indian companies) are going to pay fees on those petitions," Stock said.
The H-1B visa, popular among Indian techies, is used by American companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialised knowledge in fields such as science, engineering and computer programming.