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Visa Demand Jumps

Wall Street Journal (04/02/13) Miriam Jordan

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications from U.S. employers on April 1 for H-1B visas for jobs starting in October or later, and experts anticipate that for the first time since 2008, the yearly allotment of applications will be reached in a matter of days, prompting the use of a lottery to distribute the visas. Up to 65,000 foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree and 20,000 foreign nationals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities can be sponsored by U.S. employers every year, and these quotas likely will be reached by April 5.

Companies like Pocket Gems are concerned about the lottery, with chief executive Ben Liu noting, “Having the talent can be the difference between success and failure.” Legislation introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) would ensure H-1B visas are used to fill gaps in highly specialized jobs and not replace qualified U.S. workers, but companies believe the market should dictate how many visas are issued given that the U.S. is not producing the number of professionals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics needed for innovation and growth.