In a sign of the improving economy, the U.S. government said it saw a sharp rise in petitions for skilled foreign-worker visas during the first week of this year's application season.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received 25,600 petitions for H-1B visas since April 2, nearly twice as many as it received for the entire first month of last year's application season. The agency began accepting H-1B petitions last week for jobs with a start date as of Oct. 1, typically in computer programming, engineering and other high-tech fields where there is sometimes a shortage of qualified Americans.

"Given the improved economy ... it would not be surprising to see the quota filled very early this year," said Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, an Arlington, Va., group that studies the H-1 program.

Read More at the Wall Street Journal.