H-1B Tech Visa Applications At Record Levels

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Applications for H-1B tech visas reach record levels

U.S. businesses have received a record number of applications for the H-1B tech visas.

Applications for H-1B visas, which allow U.S. businesses to hire foreign workers in science, engineering and computer programing, reached a record of 233,000 for fiscal year 2016, according to new government figures released Monday.

Under limits set by Congress, only 85,000 of the work visas, including 20,000 for holders of master’s degrees, are available yearly. Companies are frustrated with the cap and have been aggressively lobbying to raise it.

Processing of the H-1B visas will begin May 11 and then will be allotted by a computer-generated lottery system, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Monday.

Numerous tech industry lobbying groups have expressed displeasure at not just the visa cap, but how the visas are given out.

“Year after year, the government falls back on a lottery system to determine which U.S. employers will ‘win’ the ability to hire top world talent,” Lynn Shotwell, executive director of the Council for Global Immigration, said in an email on Monday in response to the figures release. “This year, employers had a mere 36 percent chance of being granted an H-1B visa. U.S. economic growth should not be left up to this gamble.”

According to Compete America, a coalition that represents tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook, the U.S. loses roughly 500,000 jobs a year because of the limit on H-1B visas.

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