With the demand for jobs going down in a recession hit economy, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS) has received only 42,000 applications for H-1B visas for skilled workers against the Congressionally-mandated 65,000 cap.
Additionally, the agency has received approximately 20,000 applications from advanced degrees for the fiscal year 2010 programme beginning Oct 1, the agency said Thursday. But it is continuing to accept advanced degree petitions since experience has shown that not all petitions received are approvable.
Congress mandated that the first 20,000 of these types of petitions are exempt from any fiscal year cap on available H-1B visas.
Last year, in the first five days the USCIS received 163,000 applications in both categories. In 2007, they filled the annual cap in two days. In a reversal of trend the advanced degree holders quota has filled before the general quota this year.
Besides, recession new restrictions on employing H1B holders by bailed out companies has also acted as a dampener on the visa application. US Senators Richard Durbin and Charles Grassley have sponsored a bill to further restrict the H1-B programme, which the Senate will soon take up.
Meanwhile, USCIS also announced plans to naturalise 200 new citizens from 56 countries including India at a special ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday as part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birth.
USCIS naturalised more than one million new citizens in fiscal year 2008.