H-1B applications for 2006 piling up

Employers have applied for 49,040 H-1B guest worker visas for next fiscal year, more than 75 percent of the program's annual cap.

Employers have applied for 49,040 H-1B guest worker visas for next fiscal year, more than 75 percent of the program's annual cap of 65,000, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The tally, made July 31, suggests the limit for the controversial visas could be reached near or on the first day of federal fiscal year 2006, Oct. 1. This fiscal year, employers hit the annual cap as of the first day.

Applications are coming in more slowly for the extra 20,000 H-1B visas reserved annually for foreigners with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions. As of July 28, employers had applied for 10,150 of these visas for this year, according to USCIS. As of July 31, employers had asked for 7,884 of these visas for fiscal year 2006. H-1B visas allow skilled foreigners to work in the United States for up to six years.

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