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More than half the extra H1-B visas which were made available by the US government have not been taken up by anyone.

H1-B visas are non-resident six year working visas for highly-qualified people - many IT workers are employed under H1-B visas. The annual limit is for 65,000 visas but this year an extra 20,000 were offered. The original 65,000 visas were snapped up in days.

The visas are seen by some as a way to reverse, or at least slow, offshoring although opponents claim they depress US wages and have the opposite impact.

So far only just over 8,000 people have applied for the visas. Companies rather than individuals must apply for the visas and costs have risen sharply.

Bill Gates told the World Economic Forum at Davos in January that US visa restrictions were "a disaster" - he highlighted the fall in numbers of Asian applicants to US computing courses.

More on News.com here.®

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