Only 8000 H-1Bs filed in April 2011

A visa program designed to supply skilled foreign workers has slowed sharply, attracting about 50% fewer petitions so far this year than last year, and 80% fewer than in 2009. Several factors have contributed to the decline in H-1B visas, including more opportunities for skilled workers in their home nations and higher visa fees, which appear to have spurred Indian companies operating in the US to seek fewer visas. Attacks on the program by congressional foes of US immigration policies have also cast a shadow over it. USCIS told The Wall Street Journal that it received about 8,000 H-1Bs in April, the first month the agency accepts them for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. That compares with 16,500 petitions in April 2010 and about 45,000 in April 2009. For years, the H-1B program was a mainstay for software companies, architecture firms and other businesses that seek foreign nationals to fill certain jobs. Demand for the visas by companies outstripped supply, and companies such as Microsoft lobbied the US government to raise the cap on the number of visas. In 2008, employers snapped up all 65,000 visas allotted on the first day, April 1. But starting in 2009, after the financial crisis hit, the flow of applications has steadily diminished.

So the pendulum swings …

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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