In less than a week after opening the visa process for companies seeking to bring in skilled foreign workers, the U.S. received more than enough applications to fill the 65,000 government-allowed slots for fiscal year 2014. 

Practically, that means that many companies who require workers with specific skills to support their growth will be left without desired personnel well into 2015, as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will select next year’s H-1B visa recipients through a computerized lottery. 

A separate quota of 20,000 H-1B visas reserved for foreign graduates holding U.S. master’s degrees was also eclipsed. USCIS said it would conduct the lottery for this category first but did not say when that would take place. 

Software companies like Indian giants Wipro and Infosys, both with significant and growing operations in Atlanta, have traditionally been the biggest users of H-1B visas as they bring over developers and consultants to support temporary projects for major clients. 

But a closer look at foreign labor certification filings, which are required to make sure employers aren’t undercutting American workers by paying foreign employees lower wages, reveals that banks, universities, travel agencies and other companies are also using H-1B workers. 

Among the applications were a product manager for J.M. Huber Corp., an industrial products company; a currency specialist at SunTrust Banks Inc. and a public relations professional for Access Japan Inc., which arranges business travel and communications between the U.S. and Japan. Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology sought to bring in doctoral researchers and professors. 

Georgia is the No. 8 state for approved H-1Bs, with 6 percent of the total workers certified in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, equivalent to the last three months of calendar year 2012. At the national level, more than 90 percent of approved requests were filed under occupations related to computers, programming or software, according to the U.S. Department of Labor

During the 2012 fiscal year, entities in metro Atlanta filed 15,856 foreign labor certifications, making Atlanta one of the top U.S. metros in demand for foreign workers using that measuring stick. 

For more on this issue, read: Commentary: H-1B Shortage Shows Immigration Policy Lags Economic Recovery

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...