Demand for H-1B visas soars 40%
Posted on April 15, 2014
There’s been a surge in the number of H-1B visa petitions filed this year, a reflection of how much the US economy has improved and of the desperation of IT outsourcers — including Indian ones who are the biggest users of H-1Bs — to grab a greater share of these limited-number visas.
The USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) has just announced that it received 1,72,500 H-1B petitions in the first few days of this month when it was open for accepting these petitions. This compares with 1,24,000 last year, which means there’s been a 40% increase in petitions this year.
“The US economy is doing extremely well. Demand for outsourcing has picked up in the last two years and outsourcing companies have been caught unawares by the spike in demand. This year, they are trying to make sure they have enough visas to get and fulfil orders,” said Ankita Vashistha, MD of outsourcing advisory and research firm Tholons.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers. H-1Bs, however, come with a cap of 65,000, with an additional 20,000 given to those with advanced degrees.
When petitions exceed the quota, USCIS conducts a lottery to determine the petitions to be accepted. The more petitions a company files, the greater its chances of receiving visas. The number of petitions for the advanced degree quota is normally not many more than the quota of 20,000. This means that this year some 80,000 petitions in the general category will be rejected.
Indian IT companies have the option of using the L-1B work visa, but these are meant to be used for those with even more specialized knowledge than the H-1B. And the story here too has been turning negative for India. These troubles have been pushing Indian IT companies to try and move towards visa-independence by a combination of greater offshoring and more local hiring. “But both these movements have been very slow. Visas will remain important for at least the next five years,” Vashistha said.
Apr 14, 2014