U.S. employers use H-1B visas to hire high-skilled foreign workers
The H-1B visa program allows employers to hire foreigners to work in specialty occupations on a temporary basis. Visas are granted in three-year increments with the option to extend up to six years. With sponsorship from their employers, H-1B visa holders may apply for permanent residence, and their H-1B visas can be renewed for one year extensions until their green card is issued. There is a cap on the number of H-1B visas that can be issued each fiscal year. Academic and research institutions are not subject to this cap. Steps in the H-1B application process are outlined below.
Demand for H-1B workers consistently outpaces supply of visas
Over the last 10 years the demand for H-1B visas has fluctuated in response to both economic and political conditions. The trend at the national level has been one of growth, with the exception of significant declines after the collapse of the dot-com bubble in 2001, September 11, 2001, and the Great Recession starting in 2007. Over this period, there has been an average of 311,889 requests for H-1B visas, fluctuating from a 2003 low of 220,731 to a 2008 high of 404,907.
H-1B workers are requested for a variety of occupations and industries
Employers requesting the most H-1B visas are large companies specializing in information technology, consulting, and electronics manufacturing. Yet three-quarters of requests come from employers requesting fewer than 150 workers, and ten percent originate from universities and research institutions that are not subject to the annual visa cap. Of the highest requesting employers in 2010-2011, 80 percent are headquartered in the United States. STEM occupations account for almost two-thirds of all requests for H-1B workers.
H-1B demand comes from both large and small metropolitan areas
One hundred and six metropolitan areas exhibited a high demand for H-1B workers in the 2010-2011 period, accounting for 91 percent of all H-1B requests. In these and other metropolitan areas, the H-1B intensity, calculated as the ratio of H-1Bs requested to the total number of jobs in the metro area, is high. Demand for H-1B workers, however, is not limited to large metropolitan areas Columbus, Indiana boasts the second-highest demand intensity at 14.6 requests per 1,000 workers.
Metro area H-1B profiles hover over the map icon to select from a list >>
TOTAL NUMBER OF H-1B VISA REQUESTS
NUMBER OF H-1B VISA REQUESTS PER 1,000 WORKERS
TOTAL DOLLARS RECEIVED FROM H-1B SKILLS GRANTS*
PER-CAPITA DOLLARS RECEIVED FROM H-1B SKILLS GRANTS*
TOP OCCUPATIONS BY NUMBER OF VISA REQUESTS
% OF VISA REQUESTS FROM UNCAPPED ORGANIZATIONS
% OF VISA REQUESTS
IN STEM OCCUPATIONS
SELECTED TOP EMPLOYERS
All data averaged for 2010–2011 unless otherwise noted.
*Of the 106 metro areas in this study, 36 received no grant dollars.