After months of lacklustre response, U.S. authorities have witnessed a sudden increase in demand for H-1B work visa, which is popular among Indian professionals, though the applications received so far are still over 6,000 short of the Congress-mandated cap of 65,000.

Latest figures released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) show an increase in the number of people applying for H-1B visas in the last two months.

Till November 27, the USCIS had received about 58,900 H-1B petitions. This is still over 6,000 short of the mandated cap of 65,000 H-1B visas in the general category.

The USCIS has approved sufficient H-1B petitions for aliens with advanced degrees to meet the exemption of 20,000 from the fiscal year 2010 cap.

According to the periodic figures released by USCIS, in the past two months more than 12,000 H-1B visas have been filed.

In the beginning of October, more than 18,000 H-1B visas were vacant.

Primarily meant for professionals from computers and information technology sectors, the H-1B visas have been one of the most sought-after visas for foreign professionals in previous years.

The USCIS had earlier been receiving applications several times the number of the allocated quota.

This is for the first time in many years that the quota for the H-1B visa has not been filled up till the end of the year. For instance, in 2008, the H-1B quota was met in one day.

This is mainly attributed to the poor economic situation in the U.S., high unemployment rate and Congressional provisions which prevent hiring of people on H-1B visas by companies which have received federal bailout money

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