Visas in high demand for skilled workers

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is bracing for a large number of applications for high-skilled immigration visas. This demand is likely to outpace the available supply in a matter of days in one of the fastest runs for the highly desirable work permits in history. With just 85,000 visas, called H-1B visas, available for the 2014 allocation, large technology companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google want to award these visas to potential employees. According to Fox News, for the first time since 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will use a lottery to pick which companies get visas.

This “mad scramble,” as MSN referred to the rush for high-skilled visas, started April 1 and will continue until April 5.

“It will be a frenzy, because the cap is nowhere near high enough to meet demand,” Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the Software Alliance, told Fox News.

According to USCIS, 65,000 visas are awarded each year to companies looking to hire high-skilled workers from around the world, and 20,000 more visas are available specifically for foreign workers who have earned a master’s or another advanced degree from a U.S. university. USCIS noted that businesses award the H-1B program to foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, including science, engineering and computer programing.

The rush for H-1B visas is partly due to a flourishing economy. However, the scramble also signifies a need for more visas, something that has been supported by lawmakers and political candidates in recent years, and is now being considered as part of immigration reform plans in Congress.

“Across the economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that between 2010 and 2020 there will be at least 1.2 million job openings in computing professions that require a bachelor’s degree,” Holleyman told MSN. “But the National Center for Educational Statistics says we’re on pace to produce less than half that many graduates.”