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America Losing Technology Workers Denied in Visa Lottery

Bloomberg (03/28/13) Jeanna Smialek

Demand for H-1B visas is so high this year that 65,000 of the visas may be awarded via a lottery. The lottery system means more risk for the companies seeking the visas, and may also mean a long wait to learn if their employees are selected. The cap on this year’s allotment of H-1B visas could be reached by April 5. If applications exceed the limit by April 5, the visas will be awarded by lottery instead of by order of filing.

Demand for skilled talent from overseas is growing, because companies have drained the U.S. talent pool, says Emily Lam, senior director of health care and federal issues at Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “The economy is picking up,” Lam says. “Many of our employers are saying that hiring is robust.”

Many of the H-1B visas go to technology companies. Computer, engineering, and science jobs are expected to grow by 17% between 2010 and 2020, compared with 14.3% for all U.S. jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, Congress is considering a bill that would raise the H-1B cap to 115,000 and permit it to rise to 300,000 based on demand.