The massive demand among highly educated possible immigrants illustrated the need for the proposed immigration reform in the United States. Neil Ruiz, an associate fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program believes that, “Once Congress comes back next week they will say, 'Ah-ha, we need this and we need to do this now.'"
Just 85,000 H-1B visas will be released for the 2014 budget year. The race to secure a visa started on Monday April 1st and applications will close this Friday. Last year it took ten weeks for applications to hit the cap but authorities believe that this year the cap could be reached by the end of the week.
If the petitions (applications) for these visas outpace the availability by the end of the first week, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services will use a lottery to pick which companies get visas for their prospective employees.
Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the Software Alliance, a trade group for technology companies, said, "It will be a frenzy, because the cap ... is nowhere near high enough to meet demand."
Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Christopher Bentley said, “We just won't know until we answer the mail each day.”
Homeland Security told the Associated Press the reason for this high demand is a sign of the United States continued economic recovery, as technology companies continue to hire. The high demand for these sponsored visas comes amid congressional plans to increase the number of H1-B visas available to tech-savvy foreigners.
Currently, each year’s 65,000 visas are allocated to companies for their high-skilled workers from around the world. Another 20,000 are specifically for foreign workers who have earned a Master's or another advanced degree from a US university.
The plan to increase the number of H1-B’s available is being supported by lawmakers and political candidates and is considered a key part of the proposed immigration reform plans in Congress.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said, "Our current immigration laws do not prioritize immigrants based on the skills and education they bring to our country."
Goodlatte said that under the current system the United States selects only about 12 percent of legal immigrants on the basis of their special skills.
Holleyman, of the Software Alliance, told the Associated Press that immigration reform and improvements to education in science, technology, engineering and math for US students are the best ways to make sure US employers have enough skilled workers.