H-1B visas are a hot topic in the continuing debate about immigration and American jobs. The complex work visa program relies on three separate federal agencies and a lottery system to determine which applicants will ultimately be awarded the 85,000 approvals allotted each year.
New data released by the Department of Homeland Security last week gives us a better picture of the companies sponsoring workers under these visas.
More than 40,000 companies submitted H-1B visa applications in fiscal year 2016 and the top 20 sponsors account for 37% of all visa approvals. Fortune 500 companies make up more than one-third of the 30 organizations with the most approved H-1B petitions.
The data released by the USCIS last week backs up some of these concerns.
The new numbers from the agency show that these companies that outsource IT roles do make up a large portion of the H-1B visas issued, according to analysis by Quartz. They also show that these workers are often paid less than their U.S. citizen peers.
However the number of H-1B visa petitions for Indian candidates in 2017 actually declined for the first time in 7 years and the number of computer-related petitions decreased for the first time in 4 years —indicating that foreign interest in these sort of American jobs may be declining under the Trump administration.
Bills to reform the H-1B program were introduced last session in both the House and the Senate, but remain in committees.