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U.S. Agency Raises ‘Serious Concerns’ About Tech Visa Lottery

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The variety of purposes for visas utilised in the know-how field soared for a second straight yr, raising “severe worries” that some are manipulating the program to gain an unfair edge, authorities claimed Friday.

There had been 780,884 purposes for H-1B visas in this year’s personal computer-created lottery, up 61% from 483,927 past yr, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services mentioned in a information to “stakeholders.” Final year’s haul was up 57% from 308,613 programs the yr in advance of.

Every single yr, up to 85,000 persons are picked for H-1B visas, a mainstay for engineering giants these kinds of as Inc., Google father or mother Alphabet Inc., Facebook dad or mum Meta Platforms Inc. and Worldwide Company Equipment Corp.

Previous yr, the federal government started demanding personnel who gained the lottery to signal affidavits stating they failed to attempt to match the program by performing with many others to file many bids underneath distinct organization names, even if there was no fundamental employment offer. By successful at least once, they could market place their services to technology firms that wanted to fill positions but failed to have visas, correctly turning into labor contractors.

“The substantial selection of qualified registrations for beneficiaries with many qualified registrations — much more substantial than in former several years — has lifted serious fears that some may perhaps have attempted to get an unfair edge by working together to submit many registrations on behalf of the exact same beneficiary. This may well have unfairly enhanced their prospects of variety,” the agency wrote.

The agency mentioned it has “carried out in depth fraud investigations” based mostly on lottery submissions from the last two several years, denied some petitions and is “in the procedure” of referring some scenarios to federal prosecutors for probable crimes.

The selection of registrations tied to individuals who applied more than the moment rose to 408,891 this 12 months from 165,180 previous calendar year and 90,143 the year ahead of.

“We continue being dedicated to deterring and blocking abuse of the registration process, and to guaranteeing only all those who abide by the regulation are suitable to file an H-1B cap petition,” the company reported.

H-1B visas, which are utilized by software engineers and other individuals in the tech sector, have been a lightning rod in the immigration discussion, with critics declaring they are utilised to undercut U.S. citizens and authorized long lasting residents.

But technological know-how firms say they are significant for tricky-to-fill positions even as they have had to lay off employees in other regions. As the amount of applications have soared in the final two yrs, main technological innovation businesses have viewed successful lottery submissions dwindle.