Washington: Owing to sluggish US economy, the H-1B visa programme, once the most sought after among Indian professionals, still has nearly 20,000 slots vacant, seven weeks after the American authorities started receiving applications for the fiscal 2010 beginning October this year.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Tuesday said it has so far received approximately 45,500 H-1B petitions against the Congressionally-mandated cap of 65,000.
This is in contrast to the previous years when USCIS had to resort to computerised draw of lots as it used to receive petitions outnumbering the cap several times within the first few days of opening the scheme.
The USCIS said it has received approximately 20,000 petitions for the advanced degrees category. However, it would continue to accept advanced degree petitions since experience has shown that not all applications received are approvable, the USCIS said in a statement.
For the fiscal 2010, the USCIS started receiving H-1B petitions from 1 April. In the first five working days, it received 42,000 H-1B petitions. In the month and half since then, USCIS has received juts 3,500 more H-1B petitions, indicating the slump in demand for H-1B work visas.
This is mainly attributed to the current economic crisis, high unemployment rate in the US and also partly to anti-H-1B sentiment prevailing in America at present.