The U.S. has finally reached the 85,000 H-1B visa cap late December thanks to a fourth quarter spike in demand.
And, according to data recently released by the AFL-CIO labor union, most of the visa-holders are less than 35-years-old and most likely come from India. About half os these work in computer-related occupations. The AFL-CIO compiled its numbers from a number of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) reports showing the breakdown of the H-1B visa users.
Since the H-1B cap has been reached for the fiscal year, the USCIS now won't accept new visa applications until April 1 for fiscal 2011, which begins on Oct. 1.
The government data studied by the AFL-CIO covers a number of years through the 2008 fiscal year and shows a largely consistent pattern of visa usage. For example, 54% of 2008 visa recipients were from India, close to the percentage from the past several years, according to the USCIS reports. Two thirds of H-1B petitions approved in 2008 were for workers between the ages of 25 and 34, compared to 48% in 2007 and 66% in 2006.
The relative young age of the H-1B petitioners is likely to reinforce the concerns of visa critics who contend that the pool of young of workers is helping to foster age discrimination in the IT workplace. Estimates by various industry groups puts the number of IT workers in the U.S. between 4 to 6 million people. The total depends on what occupational groups are counted.
Indian nationals are the dominant recipients of the H-1B visa. Of the total number of H-1B visas issued for initial employment in 2008, for instance, 61,739 were to workers from India, followed by 9,157, or 8.8%, from China. Canadians accounted for 3,968 visas or 3.9% of the total, and the Philippines, 3,957, or 3.5%.