Tech companies hire the most H-1B workers

Reflection of a man looking at a black and orange Help Wanted sign in a business window

Myths abound regarding the nature and effects of immigration in the United States. Many argue that the influx of H-1B immigrants is negatively impacting the availability of jobs for equally capable U.S. citizens. Others argue that the only reason big tech companies hire workers this way is to reduce labor costs, because they don’t need to pay H-1B workers as much as their U.S. counterparts. Let’s take a closer look at the companies hiring the most H-1B workers and their impact on the U.S. economy.

H-1B, in brief

The H-1B visa gives the beneficiary the opportunity to live and work in the United States for the entire validity period (up to 3 years with a possible extension to 6 years). Visa holders must work for the employer that hired them under the H-1B, and to obtain this status, they must hold a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) in the appropriate field.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) holds a lottery every year starting April 1. Each year, only 85,000 visas are issued, and they tend to be shipped quickly. In 2014, the cap was filled within 6 days of the lottery opening. (Note that there is alternatives to H-1B if the petitioner loses the lottery.)

The H-1B is often awarded to those working in finance, engineering, architecture, medicine, education, and technology. Perhaps the most common recipient of the H-1B is the technical worker. According to Analysis from the Economic Policy Institute According to Department of Labor (DOL) H-1B data for FY 2022, the top 5 businesses using H-1B are:

  • Amazon
  • Infosys
  • Tata Consulting Services
  • Competent
  • Google

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H-1B, an economic boon

As the tech industry continues to grow, U.S. companies (like those above) are in desperate need of software developers and systems engineers, and due to a nationwide labor shortage , they have no choice but to turn abroad. The H-1B visa makes it possible to meet this request.

But, some say, if these workers are responding to a demand, they are doing so to the detriment of U.S. jobs.

because when a non-US citizen is hired, a fully competent US worker is not. And, the argument continues, these non-US tech workers are only hired because they provide cheaper labor. This perspective misses a few key points.

On the one hand, this completely ignores the fact that, according to a study written by Vivek Wadhwa, between 1995 and 2005, more than 50% of emerging businesses in the Bay Area were started by immigrants. These companies have, in turn, generated enormous employment pools, thereby improving employment opportunities for local U.S. workers. In the next section, we will discuss another important aspect of the H-1B process, one that often remains overlooked in immigration discourse.

H-1B, request for working conditions

Before a job seeker can apply for an H-1B visa, the employer must first submit a petition (Form I-129) to USCIS, and before they can submit this petition, they must file what is called a Request for working conditions (LCA) with the Department of Labor (DOL). LCA has a few functions. First, it ensures that the job seeker is offered a salary greater than or equal to the prevailing wage for that type of job in the employer’s region. Secondly, according to LCA Instructionsthe employer must certify that hiring a non-U.S. citizen will not “displace a similarly employed U.S. worker or workers” in that field.

So not only does the H-1B have mechanisms in place to avoid underpaying new non-US recruits; it also provides a guarantee against the displacement of national labor. You can learn more about H-1B Compliance and common H-1B errors to avoid in Boundless guides.

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