U.S. figures show most H-1B visa holders are under 35

AFL-CIO releases multi-year USCIS stats after fiscal 2010 H-1B visa limit reached

The U.S. reached the 85,000 H-1B visa cap late last month thanks to a fourth quarter spike in demand.

And, according to data recently released by the AFL-CIO labor union, most of the visa-holders are less than 35-years-old and most likely from India. About half work in computer-related occupations. The AFL-CIO compiled its numbers from a number of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service reports showing the make-up of visa users.

With the reaching of the H-1B cap, the USCIS now won't accept new visa applications until April 1 for fiscal 2011, which begins on Oct. 1.

The government data studied by the AFL-CIO covers a number of years through the 2008 fiscal year and shows a largely consistent pattern of visa usage. For instance, 54% of 2008 visa recipients were from India, close to the percentage from the past several years, according to the USCIS reports. Two thirds of H-1B petitions approved in 2008 were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34, compared to 48% in 2007 and 66% in 2006.

The relative youthfulness of H-1B petitioners is likely to reinforce the concerns of visa critics who contend that the pool of young of workers is helping to foster age discrimination in the IT workplace. Estimates by various industry groups puts the number of IT workers in the U.S. between 4 to 6 million people. The total depends on what occupational groups are counted.

Indian nationals are the dominant recipients of the visa. Of the total number of H-1B visas issued for initial employment in 2008, for example, 61,739 were to workers from India, followed by 9,157, or 8.8%, from China. Canadians accounted for 3,968 visas or 3.9% of the total, and the Philippines, 3,957, or 3.5%.

The AFL-CIO released the USCIS reports as part of a report on the visa program, called Gaming the System: Guest Worker Visa Programs and Professional and Technical Workers in the U.S.

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