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H-1b Visa ­sage Declines Sharply Due to Economy, Bureaucracy

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The United States' struggling economy is a major reason why almost 40,000 H-1B visa application slots are currently unused, in addition to 9,000 slots in the Masters Exemption program. The availability of H-1B visas represents a significant drop in applications from previous years, says attorney Kellie Lego. Although a few major companies are still bringing employees into the U.S. on H-1B visas, the overall numbers have shown a huge decrease, Lego says.

In addition to the economic downturn, the low H-1B visa numbers can be attributed to potential applicants having to navigate a much more stringent process for proving they have a job in the U.S., including submitting to a series of interviews at a U.S. Consulate in their home country. Another factor is that Customs and Border Protection agents have been denying holders of valid H-1B visas entry into the United States in some places, such as Newark International Airport, especially people from India, according to Lego.

The U.S. State Department says the number of H-1B visa applications has dropped 30 percent from 2007 to 2009.

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