What is the H-1B visa?
What does H-1B visa status mean?
The H-1B visa program lets employers hire foreign workers for specific needs that cannot be met by American workers. The visa is tied to the employer who sponsors it — if the visa holder quits or loses their job, they must leave the country or petition for another temporary work visa. Employers are responsible for the costs of return transportation for employees fired before the end of their authorized stay. People with an H-1B visa can reside in the US for an initial period of three years and renew their authorization for up to six years.
H-1B visas are also dual intent visas, meaning they allow the visa holder to simultaneously apply for a green card, giving them permanent resident status with the ability to eventually become a citizen.
Most petitions for initial or continuing H-1B visas are for Indian workers
USCIS reports that around 2.18 million petitions filed between fiscal years 2007 and 2017, or 64% of all petitions, were for Indian-born workers, the most of any country. China had the second most at 9%, followed by the Philippines at 2.5%, South Korea at 2.3%, and Canada at 1.9%. Petitions from India and China grew over the decade, while the number for the other 20 largest H-1B countries dropped.
In the 2018 fiscal year, 74% of petitions were for Indian-born workers and 11% for Chinese-born workers. Around 74% were for men.
Petitions for workers over 45 declined from 15,250 in 2007 to 8,054 in 2017. Workers under 25 also became less sought-after, down to 17,665 petitions from 25,737 in 2007. Meanwhile, petitions increased for workers aged 25 to 45.
H-1B visa holders tend to work in professional, scientific, and technical services
The three largest fields of employment cited in H-1B petitions between fiscal years 2007 and 2017 were custom computer programming services, computer systems design services, and higher education. Petitions received for these roles made up 45% of all those received over the decade.
Those and other professional, scientific, and technical services also made up the largest portion of H-1B visas granted in the 2019 fiscal year, accounting for 35% of all approvals — or 211,508 visas. Metal and semiconductor manufacturing received 34,376 visas, making it the second-largest industry for H-1B workers. Another 29,504 visas went to the information sector and 27,198 to finance and insurance.
Amazon was the top employer for initial H-1B approvals in 2019, with at least 3,398. Google followed at 2,678, the Indian-based information technology and consulting company TCS at 1,733, and Microsoft at 1,701. Facebook, IBM, Apple, and Intel each accounted for over 1,000 initial approvals. Amazon had at least 4,976 continuing approvals.
Learn more about the H-1B program here.
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