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Number of H-1B visas drops 75 per cent: Report

The number of H-1B visas issued has dropped nearly 75% from 2001 to 2002, according to a report.

business Updated: Sep 19, 2003 15:26 IST

The number of H-1B visas issued to workers in the technology industry in the United States dropped nearly 75 per cent from 2001 to 2002, according to a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report.

The H-1B visa programme, which allows foreigners to work in the United States for up to six years, enabled thousands of Indians to take up well-paying jobs in the high-tech sector in the country, especially the Silicon Valley.

The number of H-1B visas for initial employment in technology industries fell from 105,692 in 2001 to 27,199 in 2002, the San Jose Mercury News quoting the report said on Friday.

The percentage of all H-1B visas issued to technical workers also declined, from 52.5 per cent in 2001 to 26.3 per cent in 2002, it said.

The news comes as the annual limit on the number of visas is set to be lowered October 1.

The programme has attracted much criticism in the current economic environment with high unemployment rates with opponents arguing that US workers had lost jobs because companies were hiring less-expensive foreign workers.

The paper said that Intel saw a 60 per cent drop from 2000 to 2002 in the number of new H-1B visa workers it sponsored.

Tracy Koon, director of corporate affairs said that the decline was due to the economic slowdown, adding that Intel used H-1B visas to hire scientists with master's degrees and doctorates. "Our hiring is down, period, across the board."

First Published: Sep 19, 2003 12:55 IST