The US has barred employers from filing more than one H-1B visa application for a worker in a fiscal year, amid a growing clamour to raise the cap to allow more skilled professionals from India and other countries to work here.
"To ensure a fair and orderly distribution of available H-1B visas, USCIS will deny or revoke multiple petitions filed by an employer for the same H-1B worker and will not refund the filing fees submitted with multiple or duplicative petitions," the US Citizenship and Immigration Services said in an announcement.
The Congress has set a limit of 65,000 for H-1B workers for the fiscal 2009.
The changes will ensure that companies filing H-1B petitions subject to congressionally mandated numerical limits have an equal chance to employ an H-1B worker, it said.
This rule does not preclude related employers (such as a parent company and its subsidiary) from filing petitions on behalf of the same worker for different positions, based on a legitimate business need.
There has been growing presure from US companies to raise the H-1B visa quota with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates describing the cap as "arbitrary and counterproductive".
"Microsoft has found that for every H-1B hire we make, we add on average four additional employees to support them in various capacities," Gates, who once said that if he had his way he would scrap the H-1B visa system entirely, told a House of Representatives Panel on Science and Technology.