The line of businesses eager to gobble up this year’s supply of foreign tech workers was once again so long the government announced it would set up a lottery system to distribute the H-1B permits to companies.
Demand for foreign tech workers outstripped the congressionally mandated supply of about 85,000 workers in less than a week for the fourth year in a row, reports The Wall Street Journal. The apparent desperation for imported labor triggered a computer generated random lottery, as it has in previous years.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services opened the door to applications April 1, and announced demand outstripped supply Thursday, although the agency did not release the total number of applications received.
The stated purpose of the H-1b program is to allow companies to temporarily import high-skilled workers when they can’t find American workers willing or able to do the job. Critics contend its true purpose is to help big businesses cut costs by importing less expensive workers. Companies including Disney, Southern California Edison, Fossil Group and Catalina Marketing, are allegedly using the program to cut labor costs.
Lobbyists for the program point to the high demand as evidence of a shortage of tech workers for hire in the United Sates, and insist access to the imported workers is important for economic growth. (RELATED: Laid Off Disney Worker Heads To The Hill To Take On Four H-1B Myths)
“Reaching the H-1B cap within the first five days evidences that the U.S. economy is thirsting for the talent and skill of foreign nationals who contribute to our growth and job creation,” Roxanne Levine, a New York lawyer representing companies vying for the H-1B visas, told TheWSJ.
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