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Sunday, September 21, 2003

75% Drop in US H1B visas in 2002

No time to comment on this right now, but it is very interesting and important. I will try and pick up some comments in the US press later.

The number of H1B visas, issued to workers in the technology industry in the US, dropped nearly 75 per cent from 2001 to 2002, according to a new department of homeland security (DHS) report. The H1B visa programme, which allows foreigners to work in the US for up to six years, has enabled thousands of Indians to take up well-paying jobs in the country’s high-tech sector, especially in Silicon Valley. The number of H1B visas for initial employment fell from 105,692 in 2001 to 27,199 in 2002, the San Jose Mercury News, quoting the report, said.

The percentage of H1B visas issued to technical workers also declined from 52.5 per cent in 2001 to 26.3 per cent in 2002, the paper said. The news comes as the annual limit on the number of visas is set to be lowered from October 1. Of late, the visa programme has attracted much criticism in view of the high unemployment rates in the US with the opponents arguing that US workers are losing jobs because companies are hiring less-expensive foreign workers. The paper said Intel saw a 60 per cent drop from 2000 to 2002 in the number of new H1B visa workers it sponsored. Tracy Koon, Intel’s corporate affairs director, said the decline was due to the economic slowdown, adding that Intel used H-1B visas to hire scientists with master’s degrees and doctorates.
Source: Business Standard

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