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Experts are once again expecting a huge rush for H-1B visas as the time to submit petitions approaches.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will start accepting petitions for H-1B visas subject to the fiscal year (FY) 2015 cap on April 1. A limited number of H-1B visas are issued each year to allow employers to hire foreign workers with specialized knowledge or technical expertise, such as scientists, engineers, or computer professions. The caps remain the same as last year: 65,000 for those with bachelor’s degrees and another 20,000 for workers with master’s or higher degrees obtained at universities in the United States.
Those caps are expected to be met within the first week of the filing season. In fact, immigration attorney Marc Klein told CNBC that at least 160,000 applications are expected for those 85,000 available visas.  If he’s right, this year’s applications will exceed 2012’s petitions (134,000) and those submitted for 2013 (124,000). The USCIS will use a computer-generated selection process, or lottery, to determine which of the submitted petitioners will be granted the available visas.

Demand is expected to be especially high for foreign workers who can fill contract Information Technology (IT)positions. Hiring is hot in the IT sector, and due to the nature of the work, much of that hiring is being done on a contract basis. Therefore, competition for highly skilled technology contractors is fierce, forcing companies to look outside the United States for contract talent. Klein says he is also processing H-1B applications for accounting, advertising, and architecture positions.

At the urging of the technology community, there has been talk in Congress about increasing the cap, but it has stalled due to the larger debate on immigration reform in general. In the meantime, companies will continue to clamor for the limited number of H-1B Visas currently available for FY 2015.

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