H-1B limits met after just one week of petitions

As the debate continues over foreign-born students educated in America taking their skills to other countries, the US continues to limit the number of non-citizen students working here to a number that can be met in under one week's time.

Last Tuesday was the first day for the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to receive employers' petitions for foreign workers to obtain H-1B visas, to perform bachelor's and master's degree-level work in the US during its fiscal year 2009, beginning this October. Yesterday morning, the first scheduled filing period ended, and USCIS reports the number of petitions already well exceeded its annual quota of 65,000 for the bachelor's category, and 20,000 for the "advanced degree" category.

The total number of applications received has thus far not been reported. Last year, USCIS reported receiving 150,000 applications in just the first day, a glut which could conceivably have been repeated this year.

This year, in anticipation of a repeat performance of last year's cap-buster, USCIS implemented new selection rules: In the event the cap is exceeded prior to the "final receipt date" for applications (yesterday), it will use a random selection process rather than a first-come/first-served system, to determine whose applications may be granted. Filing fees from rejected applicants will be returned, and employers are now expressly prohibited from applying more than once for a single employee.

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