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Coveted HB1 Foreign Worker Visa Quota Quickly Filling Up

Dozens of employer booths are seen at a job fair called the "For The People Jobs Initiative," where job seekers met employers, job counselors, skills trainers and others, at Crenshaw Christian Center in South Los Angeles, August 31, 2011.
U.S. immigration officials say the 65,000 visa limit for highly skilled foreign workers could be reached by the end of the week.
The Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications for the highly coveted H1B visas this week.
U.S. companies can annually sponsor up to 65,000 foreigners to fill key high-technology jobs when there are not enough qualified American candidates.
Economists say the demand by foreign students for jobs in the United States is a sign that the country's labor market is advancing quickly.
James Glassman, a senior economist at JPMorgan Chase bank, said, “The market for people with specialized skills, technology skills, has really opened up dramatically. We began to see…normally for the past several years you don’t really fill these quotas till about December. And what we noticed was that last year, starting sometime in the summer, the applications really started to accelerate. So the fact that we’re filling the quota this early tells you something important about the job market, about the economy.”
Foreign workers initially can stay in the U.S. for three years on an HB1 visa. They hope the HB1 visa will lead to a green card that would allow them to stay and work in the country.
Neil Ruiz, Associate Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution:
"And yet in order to stay in the United States, the H1B program is usually the easiest way or fastest way to work for an American company. And once they work here, there’s a large country backlog for green cards. So if they do want to stay here and they come from China or India, they could be waiting after the H1B visa six or more or up to 10 or 15 years until they get a U.S. green card," he said.