The annual H-1B cap has been reached two months ahead of last year's pace, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Nov. 23.
The USCIS starts accepting H-1B petitions April 1 for the 85,000 H-1B visas the United States issues each year. Prior to the recession, openings were filled in as little as a week. For 2010, the H-1B cap was not reached until Jan. 26, 2011, and for 2009 the H-1B cap was reached on Dec. 21, 2009.
One of the most controversial tech issues, the H-1B visa has supporters in those who believe they are needed to attract foreign graduates of U.S. universities and to enable U.S. companies to remain economically competitive. However, opponents maintain that H-1B visas have led to job loss through offshoring, lower wages, and age discrimination for U.S. workers.
House Democrats and Republicans have introduced bills to make green cards available to advanced degree graduates of U.S. universities, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to include H-1B reforms in an immigration bill.
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