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The annual global quota of H1B visas to the U.S., commonly issued to technology workers sent to work there by their employers, was filled in a record single day. Applications for the visa could be submitted only on April 2 and 3 this year (Monday and Tuesday of this week). The next application dates are in April 2008.

The H1B visa is slated mostly for technology companies seeking to relocate employees to subsidiaries in the U.S. It is granted to college graduates and is commonly issued to engineers, software professionals and scientists. Many Israeli companies rely on the H1B to place Israeli professionals at U.S.-based corporate offices.

According to attorney Dotan Cohen of Katz-Cohen, who specializes in employee placements abroad, this is the first time in several years the quota was filled in a single day. In previous years, it took several weeks or even months from the start of the process until the maximum number of applications was received.

Cohen said yesterday that the H1B is the only one of about 10 different kinds of U.S. work visas that is issued in limited numbers. For instance, there is no quota for the L visa, for those with specialized knowhow or particular familiarity with a company's products. However, the H1B is valid for three years and can be extended.

According to Cohen, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services believes 200,000 H1B applications were filed in the two-day application period. The agency said it will use computers to randomly pick visa recipients from the applications received Monday and Tuesday. It will reject the rest of the applications and return the $2,000 filing fees.

Cohen expects the unusual demand will advance a move to increase the quotas.