U.S. hits H-1B cap with 'high number' of petitions

Final H-1B tally may exceed last year's count

The U.S. government said today it has reached the H-1B cap, and if this year is similar to previous years, 70% of applicants are under the age of 35, and a major portion will take jobs at offshore outsourcing companies.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) said it received a "high number" of H-1B petitions, but was unable to give a final tally because it was still counting them.

The fact that the U.S. is still processing the applications may indicate that it has received more H-1B visas than last year. There were 124,000 H-1B visa petitions submitted in calendar year 2013 (last April) for use in the 2014 fiscal year.

The H-1B program has a regular, or base, cap of 65,000, and another 20,000 visas for those who earned a master's degree or higher in the U.S. Both caps were met.

Because the number of petitions exceeded the cap, the U.S. distributes them via a computer-generated lottery.

The U.S. begins accepting H-1B petition for the next fiscal year on April 1. The 2015 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

High demand for H-1B visas was widely expected and follows gains in tech hiring. Approximately 60% of all H-1B petitions approved go to people in computer-related occupations.

Other types of professions receiving H-1B visas include physicians, teachers and professors, accountants, and other professions requiring degrees.

A majority of the H-1B visas in the computer-related occupations will go to IT services companies, who are also the major users of H-1B visas.

The IT industry is lobbying hard to increase the H-1B cap and frames it as an issue for retaining foreign nationals who graduate from U.S. schools. However, the data shows that the largest users of H-1B visas operate offshore operations. The top three H-1B users, Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Cognizant, accounted for 27% of the 65,000 H-1B cap petitions.

David Foote, who heads the labor research group Foote Partners, estimated that IT jobs increased by 128,500 last year, but most of that hiring was in IT services segments.

H-1B visa holders are relatively young. Approximately 70% of H-1B petitions approved are for workers between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the most recent USCIS profile data.

This article, U.S. hits H-1B cap with high number of petitions, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

See more by Patrick Thibodeau on Computerworld.com.

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