The U.S. government accepts applications for H1-B foreign-worker visas every year starting April 1 and tech companies are scrambling to get them — it appears that the 85,000-worker quota could run out in only a few days, reports the Wall Street Journal
"April 1 isn't so much a start date as a starting gun," said Adams Nager, an economic policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
U.S. companies can sponsor 65,000 workers who have at least bachelor's degrees. An additional 20,000 visas can go to foreign workers who got advanced degrees from U.S. institutions.
It appears likely that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will hold a lottery.
Employers pay a fee to the government to get the visas.
"I marvel at the fact that employers are willing to pay thousands of dollars just to get a chance to be subjected to a random lottery," said attorney Rita Sostrin.
Tech industries have sought to expand the program and have gotten support from Republicans.
This year is the first year that H1-B has been active during a presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton supports it, while Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz do not. Donald Trump has supported the program, but now says he opposes it.
Trump said in a GOP debate that he would end the program, reported the Washington Times
Ron Hira, a Howard University professor, said "The not so subtle message to American workers is 'tough luck.' You should be replaced by a cheaper H-1B guest worker."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal aims to reform the program, according to the Hartford Courant,
and the Democrat has sponsored a bill with
and Chuck Grassley, a Republican.
"This program, although well intentioned, is rampantly abused," Blumenthal said.