More than 18,000 US H-1B visas still up for grabs

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More than 18,000 US H-1B visas still up for grabs
Washignton:  Reflecting the dire straits of the US job market and strict regulations imposed by the US Congress, over 18,000 of the H-1B visas, once the most sought after by Indian professionals, are yet to be grabbed.

According to the latest figure update by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), approximately 46,700 of the H-1B visas in the general category were filled up by September 25; against a Congressional mandated figure of 65,000. Thus, over one-fourth of the slots are still to be filled up, even as the financial year began on Thursday.

Primarily meant for professionals from computers and information technology sectors, the H-1B visas have been one of the most sought after visas for foreign professionals in previous years.

In the past USCIS received several times the number of the allocated quota. Many a times, they had to resort to a computerised lottery to determine the successful candidates. However, this is for the first time in several years that thousands of H-1B visas are still to be filled up even at the start of the financial year.

In fact, USCIS figures reveal that in the last one month, it received just 1,600 petitions for H-1B visas, which officials said reflects the poor job market. It is also attributable partly to the Congressional provision in the 'American Recovery Act', which prevents companies receiving stimulus money from the federal government from hiring a foreign national.

The USCIS said it would continue to accept the petitions till the allocated quota is filled up. Further, even though it has received some 20,000 H-1B petitions in the high-education category, it would continue to receive application in this category too.

"USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn," it said.

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Meanwhile, USCIS underlined that it will deny or revoke all petitions filed by an employer for the same H-1B worker if more than one filing is discovered. If multiple petitions are discovered, whether one or more such petitions are approved, USCIS will data enter all those duplicative petitions, retain all fees, and either deny the petitions or, if a petition was approved, revoke the petition, it said.



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