BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The number of applications for visas used in the technology sector soared for a second straight year, boosting “serious considerations” that some are manipulating the program to acquire an unfair gain, authorities explained Friday.

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

Every single yr, up to 85,000 people today are chosen for H-1B visas, a mainstay for engineering giants such as Inc., Google guardian Alphabet Inc., Facebook dad or mum Meta Platforms Inc. and Intercontinental Business enterprise Equipment Corp.

Last calendar year, the government commenced requiring workers who gained the lottery to indication affidavits stating they didn’t test to activity the technique by working with many others to file multiple bids beneath different firm names, even if there was no fundamental employment provide. By successful at minimum when, they could current market their services to technology providers that preferred to fill positions but failed to have visas, properly becoming labor contractors.

“The substantial number of qualified registrations for beneficiaries with a number of eligible registrations — a lot larger sized than in former yrs — has elevated really serious concerns that some may well have tried to get an unfair advantage by operating jointly to post numerous registrations on behalf of the exact beneficiary. This may well have unfairly improved their odds of collection,” the company wrote.

The company claimed it has “carried out extensive fraud investigations” primarily based on lottery submissions from the last two several years, denied some petitions and is “in the procedure” of referring some instances to federal prosecutors for doable crimes.

The number of registrations tied to people today who applied much more than once rose to 408,891 this yr from 165,180 previous calendar year and 90,143 the 12 months just before.

“We stay committed to deterring and preventing abuse of the registration process, and to ensuring only people who observe the law are suitable to file an H-1B cap petition,” the company mentioned.

H-1B visas, which are employed by computer software engineers and others in the tech sector, have been a lightning rod in the immigration discussion, with critics stating they are utilised to undercut U.S. citizens and legal long-lasting residents.

But technologies providers say they are significant for challenging-to-fill positions even as they have experienced to lay off workers in other spots. As the variety of apps have soared in the last two a long time, major technology firms have found winning lottery submissions dwindle.

By Sia