Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(17) (H) lies the H1B visa program that allows US companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in the fields of science, engineering, information technology and mathematics. They have to possess the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in these fields. There is a total cap established by the immigration authorities. As for fiscal year (FY) 2018, USCIS has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap and have received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.
While there are other options for migrants, professionals, travelers and temporary settlers to come to the United States, the H1B visa option took a life of its own. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have revealed critical data that while indicates its popularity, it also acts as an alert to the US immigration authorities of its rising dominance. Below are some numbers that reflect these –
- There were a total of 336,107 petitions for H-1B visas in 2017 out of which the US government approved 1,97,129 visas that included both extensions and new applications.
- Over 58% of the applications received have been approved by the US government which is lower than that of the year 2016, when it stood at 87%. Trackitt updates these statistics in real-time and is a great source of daily, monthly and yearly approval rates.
- Comparatively in 2016, 399,349 H1B petitions were received out of which 348,162 were approved. This is reflective of the loosening grip of H1B visas after the Trump administration tightened the reins on immigration and signed an executive ban on travel.
- India has been the biggest beneficiary of this program in the past and while they topped the charts again this year, the numbers had lowered from 300,902 in 2016 to 247,927 in 2017. This is followed by China and Philippines.
- UK which had close to 5,000 petitions in 2007 has staggered down to a mere 1,783 by 2017. With better opportunities available at home, fewer workers and companies prefer to come to the US. This is true for most countries that sent foreign workers to the US in the past ten countries like Canada, Japan, Germany and France.
- As India stood to gain in the past 10 years, it was also a consequence of the booming information technology sector and other computer-related occupations in India that benefitted most from the H1B visa program.
- This specifically catered to the migrants between the age group of 25-34 years who also happened to have atleast a Bachelor’s degree, if not a Master’s degree and spoke English, coincidentally a significant requirement per the Trump administration.
- The average compensation of H-1B visa holders up to June 2017 stood at $92,317 (per annum) which has increased since 2007. Per the recent emphasis on stricter travel rules, this is expected to rise to $1,30,000 in the future.
- The other recipients of the H1B visa included architecture, engineering and surveying (318,670); education (244,000); administrative specializations (245,000) and medicine and health (185,000).
- USCIS has resumed premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions and those filed on behalf of physicians. Premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions.