All 85,000 H-1B visas for 2016 are spoken for, snapped up in less than seven days in an application process that began April 1.
Congress allotted 60,000 regular H-1Bs for fiscal year 2016, and 25,000 special visas for applicants with advanced degrees. The number of applicants in both categories exceeded the congressional caps, so U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will conduct a computer-driven lottery to choose who will receive visas.
H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to temporarily hire college-educated foreigners to perform highly specialized work, often in high tech, engineering and scientific settings. Employers in those fields frequently complain about a shortage of qualified U.S. citizens to hire.
H-1B visa holders must work for a sponsoring employer to remain in the U.S. The visas allow foreign workers to remain in the U.S. for three years, but can be extended to six years. The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa, although visa holders can apply for green cards to become resident aliens.