11,000 H1-B visas still available in USA

WASHINGTON: For the first time, about 11,000 H-1B visas, the most sought after by Indian professionals for working in the US, has found no takers indicating a grim employment scenario in the country and the steep hike in the visa fee daunting the job-seekers.

Of the 65,000 mandated H-1B visa slots, about 11,000 remains unused for qualified applicants for the fiscal 2010-2011, says the latest figures released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the US which allows American companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Last year, the cap of 65,000 was reached on December 21. In 2008, the cap was reached on April 8 and the USCIS had to resort to computerized draw of lots to determine successful applicants.

Till a couple of years ago, the cap in H-1B visas was reached in the first few days of USCIS starting to accept applications. The latest figures indicate that the employment situation in the country has still not improved.

However, in the H-1B Master’s Exemption category the cap of 20,000 has almost been filled. So far, USCIS has received 19,700 applications in this category. This is applicable for those holding Masters or a higher degree from a US university.

The fees for H-1B visas soared from USD 320 to USD 2,320 to help pay for a USD 650 million effort to increase security along the US-Mexico border.

India’s IT industry reacted sharply saying the move would cost them USD 200 million a year.

After the Border Security Bill was passed by the Congress and signed into Law by US President Barack Obama, India voiced concern over the new legislation, contending that it would mainly impact Indian companies.

-PTI

Tags: