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Record number of H-1B visa applications for fiscal year 2016

On April 1 of every year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officially begins accepting applications for the available 85,000 H-1B visas, which allow employers to bring foreign workers here to the U.S. to work in the high-demand fields of engineering, science and computer programming.

While you would think that the application process for these temporary work visas would last for a minimum of a few months until such time as the congressional cap is reached, guess again.

The reality is that H-1B visas are in such high demand that employers, who file the visa applications on behalf of their prospective hires, rush to submit the necessary documentation to USCIS as quickly as possible.

Indeed, the demand is so high that USCIS has a system in place such that if the agency receives more than 85,000 qualifying visa applications in the first five business days of April, the application period will be officially closed and a computer-generated lottery held to allocate the available H-1B visas.

This year's lottery was held just last week with a record 233,000 people vying for one of the coveted fiscal year 2016 H-1B visas. Those foreign workers lucky enough to have been selected will see the processing period begin next month.

As you might imagine, many industry groups, including the tech sector, have been lobbying Congress for reform of the H-1B visa program, saying it's necessary to keep America competitive.

"Year after year, the government falls back on a lottery system to determine which U.S. employers will 'win' the ability to hire top world talent," said an official working for a leading lobbying group."U.S. economic growth should not be left up to this gamble."

It's worth noting that New York consistently ranks high in the number of H-1B visas applications submitted. Indeed, it came in at number three in the nation in 2014 with 27,223 applications filed by employers.

What are your thoughts on the H-1B visa program? Is it in need of a major overhaul?

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