Demand for H-1B visas has risen sharply over the past six to eight weeks, and the number of companies planning to increase college hiring is also rising, indicating that the job outlook for skilled professionals may be improving.
Although demand for H-1B visas was uncharacteristically low earlier this year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service recently released data showing that in just two weeks it received 3,300 H-1B petitions, continuing the growing demand that started in October and has driven the number of visa petitions to 58,900, close to the 65,000 cap. If the demand continues, the H-1B cap for the 2010 fiscal year may be met by early next year, according to estimates from immigration attorneys.
Additionally, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that a November survey of its members found that 28 percent plan to increase college hiring, compared to just 17 percent in August. "College hiring has started to look better, much better than it did," says NACE's Ed Koc. He notes that the unemployment rate for college graduates holding bachelor's degrees in October was 4.7 percent, down from September's rate of 4.9 percent.
The increased demand for H-1B visas could indicate that companies are expecting larger budgets to work with, though part of the demand could also be some companies shifting L-1B workers to H-1B visas. Seasonal demand also could be behind the rise in H-1B applications, such as petitions being filed for students who completed degree requirements this semester.
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