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H-1B Visa Basics, Application Numbers and Salary Facts

With Trump’s presidency and his take on immigration, the H-1B 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 H-1B visa. Since there is a lot of confusion about the H-1B visa, we decided to list several facts to help clarify the issue.

H-1B Basics

  • The H-1B 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 H-1B visa to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations which require advanced knowledge. The employer has to sponsor the H-1B 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 H-1B visas issued per year is capped at 85,000. [0]
  • H-1B 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, H-1B visa holders have to pay US income tax as well as social security and medicare taxes. [1]

H-1B Applications

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

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 FY 2015
Number of H-1B Applications between FY 2012 and FY 2015 [3]

H-1B Sponsors & Salaries

Among more than 200,000 companies that filed H-1B 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 H-1B applications between FY 2012 and FY 2016.

Top 10 H-1B Sponsors by Number of Applications between FY 2012 and FY 2016
Top 10 H-1B Sponsors by Number of Applications between FY 2012 and FY 2016 [3]

Also, it is worth noting that among the top 10 H-1B 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 H-1B Sponsors between FY 2012 and FY 2016 [3]

Finally, a quick look at the top 10 salaries among H-1B 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 H-1B 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 H-1B 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. For a detailed breakdown of H-1B salaries, use our H-1B Salary Search Engine.

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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