Courier services and beat postmen covering zip code 05478 in the small town of St. Albans, Vermont, USA, are in for shock on Monday, April 2.
The truckloads of mail — many times more than their daily quota — that they at will be called to deliver at 75, Lower Welden St, won’t be an All Fools’ joke.
On their prompt delivery will depend the feats and fortunes of many Indian and U S I-T companies, not to speak of the peripatetic Indian computer jock. They will mostly be applications from Indian and US firms for the infamous H1-B visa.
A notification by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that it will apply a lottery system if the number of H1-B applications exceed the annual 65,000 quota has led to a scramble among IT firms and their attorneys to line up applications this weekend to be delivered to the USCIS office in St. Albans by April 2.
A separate USCIS office in outside Dallas, Texas, which handles southern and western states will similarly be flooded by H1-B applications.
H1-B petitions for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 H1B cap, which is to begin on October 1, 2007, can be filed six months in advance (i.e. April 1, 2007). Because April 1st falls on a Sunday this year, the USCIS has said it will treat all petitions received on both Saturday, March 31st, and Monday, April 2nd, as if they were filed on the first business day in the filing period.
A March 21 alert sent by the American Immigration Lawyers Association noted that USCIS has stated that “if a sufficient number of petitions to exhaust the quota is received on the first day, the USCIS will apply the ‘random selection’ lottery to petitions received on the first and second days as provided for in the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(h)(8)(ii)(B).”
That note, along with similar alerts from other immigration lawyers, has triggered the rush. One senior IT executive of a New Jersey-based firm told ToI he would with his attorneys all tomorrow appending his signature to 500 H1-B applications – ”that’s 3000 signatures at six per application.”
Executives at both U.S and Indian IT companies have little doubt that demand for IT workers will again outstrip supply this year. IT managers say demand is highest in dot net, java and identity management.
“H1-B workers hardly need to be on the bench for a week…they get getting placements at $ 65-70 an hour,” one manager said.
Indian IT firms such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Satyam, and Cognizant, plus a host of middling “body shop” firms, typically file hundreds of H1-B petitions on behalf of employees who are later sent (if the application succeeds) to the U.S for on site work.
In the past few years the 65,000 H1-B cap has proved to be inadequate. IT firms are now resorting to block petitions in advance to have ”ready-to-fly” workers to meet project deadlines. They are also using other business worker visa categories for the purpose.
The US Congress in its current sessions is again considering legislation to increase the H1-B quota, after the move was scuttled in the last Congress.
Original article here