An employer in the United States that wants to employ a foreign worker within a ‘specialty occupation’ has to put in an application to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for an H-1B visa that can be issued to the worker once approved. The foreign worker normally needs to have at least a bachelor’s degree or a level of skill achieved through experience, training or some other qualifications equivalent of a degree. These visas last for three years and foreign workers are able to apply for extensions.
USCIS begins to accept application in the first week of April every year and the cap has stood at 65,000 since 2004. This limit has been reached quickly in recent years, with last year reaching the cap within just two and a half months.
Now US law firm Fennemore Craig is warning that this year’s quota could be met within just one week. Many businesses have been campaigning for the cap to be increased, although anti-immigration campaigners, concerned that foreign workers are taking American jobs, have opposed this. The tech industry in particular refutes this, claiming that there are just not enough qualified Americans joining the workforce. Last year software giant Microsoft stated that it was in favor of buying H-1B visas.