Demand for H-1B visas is expected to exceed supply for the upcoming fiscal year, US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced. Staffing buyers eyeing the visa to bring in highly skilled temporary foreign workers in IT and other areas could be out of luck.
The government will accept visa petitions starting April 1, but USCIS said last week it will likely receive more petitions than available visas within the first week. And if that happens, it will stop accepting visas after week one and determine who receives a visa by using a lottery.
H-1B visas are limited to a cap of 65,000 plus another 20,000 for workers with a US master’s degree or higher.
USCIS received more petition than available visas last year as well and used a lottery. The agency received 172,500 petitions for the 85,000 available H-1Bs. And experts say demand this year may be higher.
“The feeling is that it is even going to be more oversubscribed this year than last year,” said Mark Roberts, CEO of the TechServe Alliance, the trade association of the IT and engineering staffing and solutions industry in the US. The economy is continuing to improve and the US is adding IT jobs while unemployment among many IT occupations remains low with shortages in many skill sets. “Demand keeps increasing and we are not generating an adequate domestic supply,” Roberts said.
TechServe Alliance’s IT jobs index found the number of IT jobs in the US was up by 4.5% in February compared to the same month last year.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced the I-Squared Act (S.153) this year that would raise the 65,000 visa portion of the cap to between 115,000 and 195,000. But it hasn’t progressed through the legislative process.