- The agency that handles H-1B requests said it received more than 85,000 petitions—equivalent to a full year’s supply—in just five days.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it will award the visas through a lottery, because it already surpassed the 85,000 available.
- This is the fourth year in a row that requests outnumbered supply in less than a week. The process opened April 1.
Most H-1B visas go to workers in the tech sector, though they are also used to some extent for professionals in other fields. Companies clamor for H-1B visas to fill jobs they say there aren't qualified Americans for. But opponents of th H-1B program say bringing in workers from outside the U.S. displaces American workers.
In December, Congress doubled the H-1B visa fee to $4,000 for firms that have 50 or more employees working in the U.S., with more than half of those employees on H-1B or L-1 visas. In March, the Indian government filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization, alleging that the U.S. Congress’ special fees and changes to the base H-1B cap constitute unfair trade restrictions.
Tech companies have pushed for an expansion of the H-1B program, claiming that a shortage of tech talent in the U.S. makes it necessary to recruit workers from overseas. The fact that the cap was reached in five days is further evidence of the demand for tech talent.
But not everyone is in favor of the program. Last summer, Southern California Edison workers complained that more than 500 of them were laid off so the company could bring in cheaper H-1B workers from other countries. Former Disney workers say the same thing happened to them when 250 employees were laid off in late 2014 and replaced by workers from an outsourcing company in India.