The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting H-1B Visa petitions on the 1st of April. But as of April 8th, the agency had only received about 13,500 H-1B requests for the visas, which businesses use to bring highly-skilled foreign workers to the U.S. That's well below the 42,000 requests filed during the same period last year. For the fiscal year 2008, the quota was filled up in a week.
From the Boston Globe:
Ron Hira, a professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, said that the higher number of visa applications at this point in 2009 was probably due to "pent-up demand from the prior year.'' In 2008, the entire H-1b quota of 65,000 was reached in a week; many companies who missed out may have resubmitted their applications the following year. But after the early surge in applications in 2009, demand for H-1b visas came nearly to a halt, as recession-ravaged firms stopped hiring. The quota was finally filled in December, nine months after the visa window was opened.
Steve Henn did a story on H-1B applications for us last year, and he reported that some critics say employers take unfair advantage of the visa program. In his report, he notes that Sen. Charles Grassley calls some of the companies using the program "nothing but pimps."