H-1B paperwork
H-1B paperwork - 


Scott Jagow: Today the government begins taking applications for H1-B visas. These are for highly skilled foreign workers. Officials are predicting a record number of petitions. But why do so many people want to work here when the economy is hitting the skids. From our America's Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech reports.

Dan Grech: The U.S. caps the number of visas for high-skilled foreign workers at 60,000. Last year, the quota was hit on the first day. This year, the influx could top 150,000 applications. Oracle vice president Robert Hoffman is co-chair of Compete America, a tech-industry lobbying group.

Robert Hoffman:

We don't know how deep the economic downturn is going to reach, and we don't know how long it's going to last. What we do know are, there are thousands of job openings in this country that many companies would like to fill -- openings that are important to maintaining their competitive edge in a global economy.

Bill Gates took to Capitol Hill last month saying the U.S. faces a shortage of engineers.
A recent study found S&P 500 companies had 140,000 job openings for skilled positions.
A new bill in Congress aims to more than triple the H1-B cap to 195,000.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.