The H-1B visa program allows employers to hire foreign workers for specialty occupations. In order for foreign workers to qualify for the H-1B visa program, certain criteria have to be met. First, the foreign employee must have highly specialized knowledge in a particular field, such as a medical doctor, computer programmer, teacher, engineer, etc. Second, the education requirement for the foreign worker is a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. The purpose of the H-1B visa program is to allow employers who cannot otherwise find suitable employment of U.S. workers to temporarily fill the job position with a highly skilled and qualified foreign employee.
Increased Demand for H-1B Visas in Recent Years
The annual cap for H-1B visas is set by Congress at 85,000. But the demand for H-1B visas is at an all-time high, with fiscal 2017 applications at 236,000 and fiscal 2018 applications at 199,000. Compare that to the time period between 2000 and 2013, when the visa cap was only met twice, in 2008 and 2009. If the cap is met within 5 days of accepting applications (April 1st is the beginning of the fiscal year), then the H-1B visas go to a lottery system.
Indian Workers Receive Most H-1B Visas
In the fiscal years 2001-2015, India received the highest share of H-1B visas, which equated to 50.5%. The other countries that received a higher percentage of H-1B visas are China with 9.4%, Canada with 3.8%, the Philippines with 3.0%, and South Korea with 2.8%.
Employers in Four States Receive Over Half H-1B Visas
In fiscal 2013, more than 50% of the H-1B visas went to employers in only four states; California, New Jersey, Texas and New York. California received 17.7% of the H-1B visa applicant approvals, while New Jersey had 14.0%, Texas had 12.2% and New York had 7.2%. These states have metropolitan cities, such as San Jose, Dallas, Houston, New York City, with large tech companies and finance centers.
Majority of H-1B Visas are for STEM Jobs
According to the latest government data, 90% of H-1B visa jobs required high-level STEM knowledge; science, technology, engineering, and math. About 75% of the applications require high-level computer skills and over 50% require engineering knowledge and math skills. Science knowledge was not as high in demand.
Department of Labor Crackdown on H-1B Visa Fraud
On June 6, 2017, the Department of Labor announced it would be focusing more on protecting American workers while also confronting businesses or persons more aggressively who may have committed visa program fraud and abuse. The DOL will work with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate fraud cases. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is encouraging any American worker or H-1B visa worker to report any possible violations, fraud or abuse that they have information about. The DOL is focused on promoting the hiring of American workers and safeguarding working conditions in the U.S.
Obtaining an H-1B visa in Houston is clearly a difficult feat. At Davis & Associates, we have great knowledge and experience in petitioning H-1B visas. Our Houston immigration attorneys can answer any questions or concerns you have about H-1B visas and the process. Call our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers in Houston today.