Quota of 65,000 H-1B visas likely to get exhausted on April 1

Lottery system will allocate visas.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: As the April 1 cut-off date approaches for H-1B visa applications, there are indications that the demand this year may be very high, and the quota of 65,000 could be exhausted on the very first day itself.

The window for applying for an H-1B visa — the most popular type of visa used by foreigners coming to the US for temporary jobs  — opens on April 1 and lasts five days, ending on April 5. Last year, the 65,000 quota needed all five days to be filled, but this year, it’s looking like securing an H-1B visa will be far more competitive.

“Part of the reason is that the global economy is doing much better now than it was last year,” said Johnson Myalil, an immigration attorney with the High-Tech Immigration Law Group, PLLC, a firm based in Washington, D.C. to The American Bazaar. “Companies are doing better, they are more willing to hire, so these visas will be in higher demand.”

With regards to how fast the visa quota will be filled, Myalil agreed with the assessment that it could happen on Day 1, and expected the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be inundated during the first five days of next month.

“In 2013, there were around 124,000 petitions,” he said. “This year, I would not be surprised to see that number hit anywhere between 130,000 and 140,000. The number of applications will certainly be higher than last year, and not by a small amount.”

Myalil added: “This year there are 20,000 visas that are set aside for students graduating from US schools with master’s degrees, and another 65,000 in the open pool,” explained Myalil. “Of those 65,000, around 5,800 are reserved specifically for people emigrating from Singapore and Chile because of a trade agreement the US has with those countries, leaving [58,200] left for the rest of the general pool.”

Once the quota of applications is exceeded, the entirety of applications enter into a lottery system at the close of the five-day application window. Because of the lottery system, there is no guarantee that just because someone filed their application on April 1, they’ll automatically get their visa.

H-1B visas have become a point of contention with US lawmakers, especially in light of the immigration reform bill that made waves since last summer but has struggled to stay alive ever since. Bills have been proposed in Congress to expand the H-1B quota by as much as 50,000, driving the number all the way up to 115,000.

The immigration reform bill also addressed H-1B visas by proposing that companies pay as much as $10,000 per petition, a notion opposed by several IT companies dependent on the visa and countries like India, who send many of their workers to the US on H-1B visas.

To contact the author, email to deepakchitnis@americanbazaaronline.com

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