Sanjay Kucheria, president and co-founder of a thriving Glendale information technology company of 200 engineers, programmers and consultants, wants to hire more than 3,000 employees in the next seven years.

But Trinus Corp. doesn't expect to find many of them locally, because Kucheria believes there aren't enough talented American engineers to go around.

So last week, the company hand-delivered 80 applications for H-1B visas, the legal document required of businesses recruiting skilled workers from abroad or foreign students with degrees from U.S. universities.

The problem is they're stacked with 133,000 other applications that flooded the offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on April 2, the first day companies could submit applications. As a result, the annual cap, set at 65,000 visas, was reached within hours. Last year, the application limit was reached in 50 days. A computerized lottery will be used to determine which applications will be approved.

But Kucheria is far from relying on the lottery to fill his personnel needs. He recently bought 3.5 acres in Pune, a city near New Bombay, with plans to build a campus there with capacity for 3,000 employees.

"We have to go wherever we can find talent," Kucheria said. "We live in a democracy where there is a free flow of ideas, talent, capital and people. They flow where they're welcome."

Kucheria said he's taking advantage of a trend in which many Indian engineers with higher degrees from American universities are packing their bags and heading back home to avoid the hassle of H-1B visas. Kucheria is also an example of an increasing number of American companies setting up shop in India to hire local talent, including tech giants Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and IBM.

The H-1B visa program allows companies to employ highly skilled engineers, scientists and computer programmers with expertise that cannot be found in the American workforce. Tech companies say that the domestic talent pool is too shallow and they must resort to importing qualified labor. Opponents concerned about saving jobs for American workers argue that qualified U.S. engineers are being turned away or fired for lower-paid foreign hires.

In Los Angeles, the unprecedented inundation of H-1B visa applications is being attributed to the rapid growth of the tech industry and companies filing applications early because they're nervous about the impending legislative changes to the federal immigration policy.

The local tech sector is also being showered with more venture capital than it has seen since the Internet boom.


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