H1-B visas cap for 2007 reached
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H1-B visas cap for 2007 reached

Given to skilled professionals, the visas are in demand among hi-tech workers.

india Updated: Jun 04, 2006 02:40 IST

The US government has reached the cap on the much in demand H1-B visas for 2007 even though the fiscal year does not start until October 1, the Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced.

The USCIS began accepting applications for the H1-B petitions for Fiscal 2007 on April 1 and the cap was reached on May 26 and hence high tech firms will have to wait until April 1, 2007 for applications for Fiscal 2008 that begins on October 1, 2007.

The H1-B visas, given to skilled professionals, are in demand among many Indian hi-tech workers.

The Congressionally mandated cap currently is 65,000 and the Senate recently passed its version of an Immigration Bill that increases the H1-B cap to 115,000 every year with a built in increase of 20 per cent annually.

The Senate version is proceeding to a Conference Committee, as it has to be reconciled with a House Bill passed late last year. There is nothing in the House version on the H1-Bs and hence the uncertainty.

Hi-tech companies that are pressuring Congress to increase the cap with a view to meeting the demand are pointing out that this is the fourth year in a row that the H1-B cap has been reached even before the start of the Fiscal Year.

The H1-B visas programme is dear to the Silicon Valley as its lobbyists helped convince the Congress to increase the number of annual H1-B visas to 115,000 in 1999 and then to 195,000 through fiscal year 2003. After that, the cap became 65,000.

The USCIS has said in a statement that there are exemptions to the Cap such as the Visa Reform Act of 2004 that allowed 20,000 petitions for those who have earned Master's Degrees or higher from American institutions.

This group does not come under the annual cap provisions. And for fiscal 2007 the USCIS has said that it has received approximately 5830 petitions.

First Published: Jun 03, 2006 18:05 IST