A day before the window opens for new H-1B visa applications for skilled foreign workers, indications are that the rush of previous years will be missing, because of the recession and new restrictions.
“We are filing far fewer new H-1B petitions — may be 30 per cent fewer — than last year," said attorney Sheela Murthy of the Murthy Law Firm based in Maryland.
Inderpreet Sawhney, head of the immigration practice at the Chugh law firm in Santa Clara, California, also reported a drop in the number of applications her firm prepares.
New visas are capped at 85,000 a year, including 20,000 reserved for those with advanced US degrees (but institutions of higher education and some research organisations are exempt). Indians get the largest share.
On Wednesday, USCIS will start accepting H-1B petitions covered by the Fiscal 2010 cap.
It is reported that 1.63 lakh applications were filed before the window closed last year. The Murthy Law Firm website said while the number of applications is almost certain to exceed the cap this year too, it is not known whether that will happen within the five-day minimum for which the window will stay open.
Many financial firms, which have been hit hardest by the recession, also face new restrictions. Firms that have received government bailouts will have to jump through more hoops before they can hire foreigners on H-1B visas.
Interestingly, financial services firm State Street Corp., which received $2 billion in bailout money, said it will file H-1B applications, though the number will be "significantly lower" than last year because of the weak economy, the Boston Globe reported. The firm received approvals for 22 H-1B visas last year.