H-1B Visa Program: 13 Notable Statistics - InformationWeek
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11/20/2014
08:06 AM
Kevin Casey
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H-1B Visa Program: 13 Notable Statistics

Demand for new H-1B visas is expected to considerably outpace supply in the coming year. Consider these 13 instructive figures.
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H-1B by the numbers
Like many other systems, the United States's H-1B visa system can be distilled down into numbers: available visas, total applicants, demographic breakdowns, application fees and other costs, salary data, and so on.

Such an exercise may seem reductive. But at its core, the H-1B program, which enables international citizens to work legally in the US if they meet certain criteria, does boil down to two concepts from your Microeconomics 101 textbook: supply and demand. There is currently a fixed supply of new H-1B visas each year -- 85,000, to be precise, a number set by federal mandate -- with exemptions in certain scenarios, such as university and nonprofit employees. Demand varies from year to year, sometimes wildly so. Lately, it's pointed straight up.

In the annual filing period that began April 1, 172,500 would-be H-1B holders applied for new visas in just five business days, at which point United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) closed the window for the year. You need not be a calculus whiz to do the math: Simple arithmetic reveals that there were more than two applications for every available new H-1B. Visas were then granted based on a computer-generated lottery system; successful applicants in the April filing period became eligible to work in the US for their sponsor employer as of Oct. 1, the start of the new federal fiscal year.

The math also meant more than half the individuals and sponsor employers who filed paperwork for a new H-1B visa this year didn't get one. (More on that in a moment.) Demand outstripping supply isn't a new phenomenon, per se, though the difference was more drastic this year. In 2013, USCIS received 124,000 applications before closing the filing period in a similar weeklong timeframe -- again, far more than it needed to fill the federal cap, but well below this year's level.

Employment attorney Scott Fanning told us that his firm, Fisher & Phillips, expects demand to continue rising for the foreseeable future. H-1B demand reacts to a host of variables -- if the global economy tanks like it did in 2008, for example, you can bet H-1B applications will fall -- but Fanning detailed two factors that will drive rising demand next year and possibly beyond. The first is simply that many of the people (and their prospective employers) whose applications didn't survive the lottery process this year will try again next year, in addition to the usual pool of first-time applicants. The second is that some employers are sponsoring more H-1B petitions than they had in the past to manage the growing probability that some of those applications won't result in visas.

So why doesn't the federal government just raise -- or eliminate, as some have suggested -- the cap and let the free market decide the right number of H-1B visas? Fanning said there has actually been some support on both sides of the political aisle for expanding the H-1B program, though Republicans and Democrats don't see eye-to-eye (shocking, we know) on how to address it legislatively. Immigration policy in general is, to put it mildly, a heated topic in Washington and nationwide.

The H-1B program has plenty of critics, some of them vehement in their opposition, and many of whom call "BS" on the assertion of a lack of domestic IT talent. As InformationWeek editor-in-chief Laurianne McLaughlin wrote in a recent piece on the IT skills shortage debate, one noted H-1B critic argues that the visas enable age discrimination in IT, with companies reaping the benefits of less expensive, less experienced labor from abroad.

This becomes an example of where apparently boring numbers get a bit more interesting. If you want to make that link between H-1B visas and age discrimination, here's a number that should catch your attention: In FY 2012, 72% of H-1B holders were between the ages of 25 and 34, according to the USCIS annual report for that year, the most recent it has published on its public website.

Numbers can tell all kinds of stories. Here's another one: 61. That number, expressed as a percentage, helps explain why IT and H-1B visas are so closely associated with one another, though in fact the program covers a much wider range of occupations and industries. Read on for an explanation -- and a breakdown of a dozen other key stats associated with the H-1B program.

(Image: Gulbenk)

Kevin Casey is a writer based in North Carolina who writes about technology for small and mid-size businesses. View Full Bio

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Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
12/15/2014 | 11:14:44 PM
Re: You forgot the most important statistic
The shareholders that have invested capital into technology companies would like to gain a profit as well. If the world has a supply of skills that is relatively cheaper than those companies would want to utilize it to earn a profit for their shareholders. The out-come of the cap could go either way, but someone will be at the losing end.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
11/22/2014 | 10:32:49 AM
Re: You forgot the most important statistic
Sir,

I stopped watching Cable (and disconnected it long-long back).

Whatever news and entertainment my family needs today is all via the Internet.

I am just sharing all the news that I am getting online on this topic with you.

It can definitely improve/change the plight of H-1Bs (the changes that Obama is now proposing ).

Good,Good Article!

 
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
11/22/2014 | 8:51:26 AM
325; 750; 1,500; 500; 2,000; 1,225
 

These numbers are the real problem! The fees are ridiculously low. Any company wanting to hire via H1B needs to have compelling business reasons to import talent. With petty fees like that the main driver is cheap labor, that is not what H1B was intended for. A company that is in dire need for talent will also be willing to pay for it. Increasing the fees at least tenfold will ruin the math for hiring cheap labor because after paying the fees the labor isn't that cheap anymore compared to hiring folks who already are in the country.

 
n6532l
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n6532l,
User Rank: Strategist
11/22/2014 | 2:29:20 AM
The H-1B is Itself a Manipulation of the Free Market
The reason the H-1B visa was invented was to allow employers to avoid the high wages a free market gave to STEM workers. Nobel economist Milton Friedman said


"There is no doubt, that the [H-1B] program is a benefit to their employers, enabling them to get workers at a lower wage, and to that extent, it is a subsidy."

The H-1B is government manipulating the labor market for the benefit of employers by increasing the supply of labor with foreign born workers in order to drive down the price. A free market solution to a shortage of skilled workers would be to eliminate the H-1B and let employers bid up the price of labor (wages). This would ensure that available labor would go to where it is needed most and the high wages would attract more people to acquire the skills the market demands.
vbierschwale
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vbierschwale,
User Rank: Strategist
11/21/2014 | 12:29:00 PM
Re: You forgot the most important statistic
Can't afford tv, so I have no idea what is happening.

 

http://keepamericaatwork.com/?p=601

 

Here is the link to the article.
Ashu001
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50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
11/21/2014 | 11:21:16 AM
Re: You forgot the most important statistic
Sir,

How are you reading the latest Obama Immigration Overhaul annoucement?

Sure Congress(and especially all the Republicans) have vowed to Defeat it by fair means or foul;but I personally feel(after going through the Details of the plan;need to still see how it will work in practice).

That it will be a good deal for most H-1Bs today.

It would have been better if he would also have brought a proposal to reduce the H-1B Quota for Fresh Enrollees but By and By(if this is how the US Government decides to implement things finally) ;It will be a massive-massive improvement over the existing mess.

Bottomline is that someone who has been working in the US for over a decade continously should get an Automatic Green Card and you have to also control flow of Techies constantly flowing in from abroad depressing American Wages in the process.

That's the only way to end this mess decisively.

Could you please send me the Title of the article you had written recently(Infosys and Thanksgiving)?

I would love to read it.
Ashu001
50%
50%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
11/21/2014 | 11:21:16 AM
Re: You forgot the most important statistic
Sir,

How are you reading the latest Obama Immigration Overhaul annoucement?

Sure Congress(and especially all the Republicans) have vowed to Defeat it by fair means or foul;but I personally feel(after going through the Details of the plan;need to still see how it will work in practice).

That it will be a good deal for most H-1Bs today.

It would have been better if he would also have brought a proposal to reduce the H-1B Quota for Fresh Enrollees but By and By(if this is how the US Government decides to implement things finally) ;It will be a massive-massive improvement over the existing mess.

Bottomline is that someone who has been working in the US for over a decade continously should get an Automatic Green Card and you have to also control flow of Techies constantly flowing in from abroad depressing American Wages in the process.

That's the only way to end this mess decisively.

Could you please send me the Title of the article you had written recently(Infosys and Thanksgiving)?

I would love to read it.
JamesG113
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JamesG113,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2014 | 3:29:13 PM
An inconvenient fact and a suggestion:
One thing the author fails to mention is that if an H-1B applicant loses the lottery, his fees are fully refunded.Because of this, many companies file extra petitions to improve the chances of getting the number they want. The total number of filings relates more to how many companies are trying to game the system than it does to actual need.

The solution:

First, we need to make sure there is a cost to apply for an H-1B visa, even of the lottery is lost. I think keeping half of the filing fee would go a long way toward getting rid of those trying to game the system.

Next, we need to change the lottery to a sealed-bid auction based on pay.
After the initial 5 day acceptance period, grant visas only to the companies paying the highest wages. That way, American companies who really need H-1Bs will be able to get them by offering high wages, while the low-ballers and body shops will be out of luck.
In the next year, raise the low end minimum bid to the second quintile of acceptable bids, and keep raising it each year until the minimum matches or exceeds the median pay for American workers.
After a few years, the current limit on H-1Bs, will be more than enough to fill the need, and we can lower the limit.
The change would be gradual enough for the companies who do not really need foreign talent to ween themselves off the program and back on to American workers.
hho927
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0%
hho927,
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2014 | 1:56:56 PM
Re: Need a few more numbers
We can argue but everything is about money. I beleive human by nature are corrupted. My indian colleague took a few CS classes with connection now he's working for a fortune company.

In the 90s people rushed to study CS/IT. I was one of them. I graduated with BS after the dot com bust. I was willing to work for little money at a mid size company. Could not get it. I have to settle for little money with small companies. I do what I love but money doesn't come. My old college friends either joined the navy,army or switched to other careers.

Companies are trying to make more money so the owners/CEOs can get a new house,bmw, or mistress. I can't believe my tiny company outsource too.
kstaron
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0%
kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
11/20/2014 | 10:55:44 AM
Need a few more numbers
I want one more number here to make it complete: The number of U.S. graduates ages 25-34 with a degree in IT that are currently looking for a job. (And maybe the numbers of those over 35 that are looking too)

If the visas fill a need the education system in the U.S. needs to look at why. Why are we not churning out enough IT graduates to fill the needs of the companies looking? What opportunities and experiences are available in other countries that make the visa holders more valuable than U.S. graduates? Or is it really all about cutting costs by getting cheaper labor?
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