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US to accept H-1B visas from today

By Lalit K Jha
April 01, 2014 13:20 IST
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VisaThe US has made elaborate arrangements for receiving applications for its much coveted H-1B visas to meet the expected rush.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services will determine from today the allocation of visas -- highly popular among IT professionals -- through computerised draw of lots.

"USCIS anticipates receiving more than enough petitions to reach both caps by April 7.

“The agency is prepared to use a random selection process to meet the numerical limit. Non- duplicate petitions that are not selected will be rejected and returned with the filing fees," an official statement said.

As per the Congressional mandated cap, USCIS can allocate a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2015 beginning October 1, 2014.

The cap has remained in place for the past several years.

The first 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of individuals with a US master's degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap.

"Due to the high level of premium processing receipts anticipated, combined with the possibility that the H-1B

cap will be met in the first five business days of the filing season, USCIS has temporarily adjusted its current premium processing practise," it said.

"To facilitate the prioritised intake of cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than April 28," USCIS added.

USCIS conducted a computerised draw of lots for available H-1B visas last year.

This random lottery was conducted on April 7 and was the first random lottery since April, 2008.

Meanwhile, Marc Klein, an immigration attorney with Thompson & Knight, told the CNBC news that at least 160,000 applications are expected for the 85,000 available visas.

Her estimate would top 2012's 134,000 petitions and last year's 124,000.

The highest-ever number of applications was more than 201,000 in 2001, according to USCIS.

"It just shows the US still lags behind other countries when it comes to an emphasis on educating American-born students in computer science, math and other areas," she was quoted as saying.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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