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U.S. hits H-1B cap with 'high number' of petitions

Patrick Thibodeau | April 8, 2014
The U.S. government said today it has reached the H-1B cap, and if this year is similar to previous years, 70% of applicants are under the age of 35, and a major portion will take jobs at offshore outsourcing companies.

The U.S. government said today it has reached the H-1B cap, and if this year is similar to previous years, 70% of applicants are under the age of 35, and a major portion will take jobs at offshore outsourcing companies.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) said it received a "high number" of H-1B petitions, but was unable to give a final tally because it was still counting them.

The fact that the U.S. is still processing the applications may indicate that it has received more H-1B visas than last year. There were 124,000 H-1B visa petitions submitted in calendar year 2013 (last April) for use in the 2014 fiscal year.

The H-1B program has a regular, or base, cap of 65,000, and another 20,000 visas for those who earned a master's degree or higher in the U.S. Both caps were met.

Because the number of petitions exceeded the cap, the U.S. distributes them via a computer-generated lottery.

The U.S. begins accepting H-1B petition for the next fiscal year on April 1. The 2015 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

High demand for H-1B visas was widely expected and follows gains in tech hiring. Approximately 60% of all H-1B petitions approved go to people in computer-related occupations.

Other types of professions receiving H-1B visas include physicians, teachers and professors, accountants, and other professions requiring degrees.

A majority of the H-1B visas in the computer-related occupations will go to IT services companies, who are also the major users of H-1B visas.

The IT industry is lobbying hard to increase the H-1B cap and frames it as an issue for retaining foreign nationals who graduate from U.S. schools. However, the data shows that the largest users of H-1B visas operate offshore operations. The top three H-1B users, Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, and Cognizant, accounted for 27% of the 65,000 H-1B cap petitions.

David Foote, who heads the labor research group Foote Partners, estimated that IT jobs increased128,500 last year, but most of that hiring was in IT services segments.

H-1B visa holders are relatively young. Approximately 70% of H-1B petitions approved are for workers between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the most recent USCIS profile data.

 

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