Washington: For the first time in several years the H1B visa programme, once the most sought after among Indian professionals, is unlikely to reach its cap of 65,000 before the start of the 2010 fiscal with nearly 20,000 slots lying vacant thanks to the tattered US economy.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services said it has received approximately 49,000 H1B petitions till 7 August counting toward the Congressionally-mandated 65,000 cap, more than four months after it started accepting applications for visas for the 2010 fiscal beginning this October.
This is in contrast to the previous years when the USCIS had to resort to computerized draw of lots as it received petitions outnumbering several times more than the Congressional mandated cap of 65,000 within the first few days after it started receiving H1B applications.
The figure of 20,000 slots in the vacant category has remained almost the same for the past two months. This is also due to a large number of rejections of H1B petitions.
Indian IT professionals have been a major beneficiary of H1B visas, figures released in the past have said.
An additional 20,000 H1B can also be issued to those foreign professionals, who have masters or higher degree from the US. Though the USCIS received 20,000 petitions, it continues to accept applications in this category.