The US has started accepting petitions for the much sought H-1B work visas, amidst fear from industry experts and officials that the Congressional mandated quota of 65,000 might get filled up in the first week itself.
Officials said the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would not issue a daily update on the number of applications received, but will make an announcement when the cap is reached.
According to Congressional approved mandate, USCIS can reward a maximum of 65,000 H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2014 beginning October 1, 2013.
In addition, the USCIS can also reward 20,000 H-1B visas for those having masters or higher degree from US academic institutions. This limit on H-1B visas has been in place for more than two decades now.
The USCIS received H-1B petitions at its two centers -- the Vermont Service Center and the California Service Center -- where its officials described business as usual.
Last week, USCIS had said based on feedback from a number of stakeholders that it anticipates that it may receive more petitions than the H-1B cap between April 1, 2013 and April 5, 2013.
As such if USCIS receives more petitions than it can accept, it will use a lottery system to randomly select the number of petitions required to reach the numerical limit, the federal agency said.
The lottery for the H-1B cap was last used in April 2008, when the cap was filled on the first day itself.
In 2012, it took 73 days for the USCIS to fill in the cap, while in took 235 days to receive applications to fill the 65,000 H-1B numbers in 2011; 300 days in 2010, and 264 days in 2009. In 2008 and 2007 the caps were reached in the first few days.