H-1B Visa Statistics And Anticipated Future Trends

 
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Introduction

One key priority of the Trump administration is to limit immigration, in part through enacting visa reform, in order to increase enforcement and encourage policies that benefit US workers. Consequently, early in April 2017 the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)1 the US Department of Labour (DOL),2 and the US Department of Justice (DOJ)3 announced plans for better inter-agency coordination regarding H-1B visa fraud and abuse and to review the H-1B programme in more detail.

On April 18 2017 President Trump released an executive order entitled "Buy American and Hire American"4 in which the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of labour and the secretary of homeland security were prompted to suggest reforms and propose new laws to ensure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid beneficiaries. In line with these developments, USCIS5 and the DOL6 have published reports detailing the existing H-1B trends.

USCIS and DOL reports on H-1B petition filings

Birth country

The vast majority of H-1B petitions filed in 2017 (247,927 out of the 336,107 or 74%) were for beneficiaries born in India. Although second, China was significantly below India with 36,362 filed petitions. The Philippines, which ranked third with 3,161 filed petitions, demonstrated a large gap below India and China. All other top filing countries had petition volumes of between 1,000 and 3,000.

Occupations

Over the past 10 years, the vast majority of H-1B filings have been for computer and IT-related positions, such as computer systems analysts (22.1% of positions certified by the DOL), application software developers (15.8%) and computer programmers (9.5%).

In its recent policy memo entitled "Rescission of the December 22, 2000 'Guidance memo on H-1B Computer Related Positions'", USCIS indicated that based on the definition of 'computer programmer' in the DOL's Bureau of Labour Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), it has concluded that most computer programmer positions would not qualify for H-1B visas, as many such positions do not require a bachelor's degree or higher. Therefore, computer programmer positions may not rise to the level of a specialty occupation as required by H-1B visa regulations.7 The memo also stated that other positions which fall into OOH classifications which generally, but not always, require a four-year bachelor's degree may draw additional inspection for meeting H-1B specialty...

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