Two days. That's how long it took the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency to receive 133,000 applications for new H-1B visas. A random computerized lottery will now be held to decide who among that group of applicants receives one of the 65,000 visas that will ultimately be issued, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
H-1Bs, which are restricted to college-educated foreign workers, are relied on in particular by companies in advanced technological fields. "Although the numbers are at an all-time high," the Chronicle writes, "the vast amount of applications didn't really surprise anyone with insight into the system. Last year's cap of 65,000 visas was filled in 50 days. Many who didn't get their H-1B visa then have been waiting since. And more people want to come to the United States to work because the economy now is showing continued signs of improvement."
As Nitasha Tiku and Max Chafkin write in this month's special report on global business, one option for U.S. companies bumping up against the visa cap is to open a branch office in Canada, where there are fewer restrictions on immigration. Canada is particularly welcoming of foreign-born entrepreneurs.
So what's your experience with H-1B visas? Did you apply to take part in the upcoming lottery? Do you employ someone who did? Do you think the U.S. should expand the program, as many tech firms have requested? And would you consider expanding into Canada in order to ensure that your company had access to more foreign-born and -educated workers?