H1B Visa Basics, Application Numbers and Salary Facts

With Trump’s presidency and his take on immigration, the H1B visa has once again become the center of attention. Yesterday, Trump’s administration drafted an executive order to make changes to the work-visa programs. The new EO will likely include the H1B visa. Since there is a lot of confusion about the H1B visa, we decided to list several facts to help clarify the issue.

H1B Basics

  • The H1B is a non-immigrant visa. It has a typical validity period of 3 years which can be renewed for another 3 years. After 6 years, the person to whom the visa was issued has to return to their home country or transition to a different visa/status. [1]
  • American employers can use the H1B visa to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations which require advanced knowledge. The employer has to sponsor the H1B visa for the foreign worker. As a result, the work authorization is limited to the sponsoring company. [1]
  • There is a cap limit of 65,000 H-1B visas to be issued every year plus a 20,000 limit for people with advanced degrees. So the total number of H1B visas issued per year is capped at 85,000. [0]
  • H1B visa holders have to be paid a minimum salary for their occupation. The minimum is determined by looking at salaries paid to individuals performing the given occupation in a specific location. [0]
  • Regardless of their taxation categorization, H1B visa holders have to pay US income tax as well as social security and medicare taxes. [1]

H1B Applications

The number of H1B application vary depending on the reporting source. As you can see in the charts below, the USCIS [2] reported lower numbers than the OFLC [3]. According to the USCIS, the number of applications have been increasing constantly year over year except a slight decrease in FY 2013.

Number of H-1B Applications between FY 2012 and FY 2015
Number of H1B Applications between FY 2012 and FY 2015 [1]
The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) reported a similar trend between FY 2012 and FY 2015. Numbers for FY 2016 should be higher than FY 2015 once all data is available.

Number of H-1B Applications between FY 2012 and Q3 FY 2016
Number of H1B Applications between FY 2012 and Q3 FY 2016 [2]

H1B Sponsors & Salaries

Among more than 200,000 companies that filed H1B visa applications, three IT services companies all headquartered in India top the list: Infosys, Tata Consultancy and Wipro. Combined, the three companies filed more than 10% of the total H1B applications between FY 2012 and FY 2016.

Top 10 H-1B Sponsors by Number of Applications between FY 2012 and FY 2016
Top 10 H1B Sponsors by Number of Applications between FY 2012 and FY 2016 [3]
Also, it is worth noting that among the top 10 H1B sponsors, only Microsoft pays an average annual salary of more than $100,000. On the other hand, Tata Consulting Services pays the lowest annual salary $68,036.

Average Salaries of Top 10 H-1B Sponsors between FY 2012 and FY 2016
Average Salaries of Top 10 H1B Sponsors between FY 2012 and FY 2016 [3]
Finally, a quick look at the top 10 salaries among H1B sponsors with more than 500 applications shows 8 silicon valley based companies. However, this list doesn’t include any of the top 10 sponsors.

Top 10 H-1B Sponsors by Average Salary between FY 2012 and FY 2016
Top 10 H1B Sponsors by Average Salary between FY 2012 and FY 2016 [3]
In conclusion, it is clear that there is higher demand year over year for foreign talent especially in the tech sector. Among those using the H1B visa to recruit foreign workers, Indian IT services companies are the biggest sponsors. Silicon Valley tech companies, on the other hand, pay the highest salaries.

References

[0] https://www.uscis.gov/eir/visa-guide/h-1b-specialty-occupation/understanding-h-1b-requirements

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-1B_visa

[2] https://www.uscis.gov/tools/reports-studies/reports-and-studies

[3] https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/performancedata.cfm

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