H-1B Visa Applications Slow

The number of H-1B visa applications - nonimmigrant speciality work permits - has dropped significantly this year. Whereas in past years, the applications exceeded the allowed quota, this recessionary years has 20,000 remaining applications (out of a total quota of the 65,000 subject category) as of mid-April. In 2007 and 2008, more than 150,000 and nearly 200,000 H-IB applications were filed, respectively.

In past years, Indians comprised a plurality of the applications by a wide-margin. In fiscal year 2008, they were nearly 38% of the admissions. Canada, United Kingdom and Mexico also send large numbers of workers under the H1-B visa program.

The USCIS began accepting H-1B applications from April 1, for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, allotting 65,000 to the "subject" category and 20,000 to the advanced degree cap. The advanced degree quota has been filled.

The H-1B is an employment-based nonimmigrant status which allows a foreign national to come to the U.S. and temporarily perform services in a specialty occupation. A specialty occupation is one which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge to perform the occupation. The applications require a minimum bachelor's degree and include feels such as architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, and the arts