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Over 18,000 H-1B visas still available

Washington, Oct 1 (IANS) Once coveted by Indian techies, more than one fourth of the H-1B visas for skilled professionals are yet to be grabbed, with the US job market still to pick up as it recovers from its deepest recession in decades.

By Sep 25 only about 46,700 of the H-1B visas in the general category were filled up against a Congressional mandated cap of 65,000, according to the latest update by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Thus, more than 18,000 H-1B visas are still to be filled up, even as the new financial year began Thursday.

The USCIS said it would continue to accept the petitions till the allocated quota is filled up. Further, even though it has received some 20,000 H-1B petitions in the high-education category, it would continue to receive application in this category too.

“USCIS will continue to accept both cap-subject petitions and advanced degree petitions until a sufficient number of H-1B petitions have been received to reach the statutory limits, taking into account the fact that some of these petitions may be denied, revoked, or withdrawn,” it said.

USCIS also warned that it will deny or revoke all petitions filed by an employer for the same H-1B worker if more than one filing is discovered.

If multiple petitions are discovered, whether one or more such petitions are approved, USCIS will data enter all those duplicate petitions, retain all fees, and either deny the petitions or, if a petition was approved, revoke the petition, it said.

This is for the first time in several years that thousands of H-1B visas are still to be filled up even at the start of the financial year.

In fact, in the last one month, USCIS received just 1,600 petitions for H-1B visas, which officials said reflects the poor job market.

This is unlike the previous years when the entire 65,000 visas were grabbed on day one. Many a times, the USCIS had to resort to a computerised lottery to determine the successful candidates.