— File Photo by Reuters

WASHINGTON: The Homeland Security Department expects applications for high-skilled immigration visas to outpace the available supply in a matter of days, one of the fastest runs on the much-sought-after work permits in years.    

The urgent race for such visas, which are highly sought after by Microsoft, Apple, Google and other leading technology companies, coincides with congressional plans to increase the number available to tech-savvy foreigners.

The rush to secure one of the 85,000 so-called H-1B visas available for the 2014 budget year started Monday and requests will be accepted through at least Friday.

If petitions outpace the availability in the first week, US Citizenship and Immigration Services for the first time since 2008 will use a lottery to pick which companies get visas to award to prospective employees.

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