USCIS Releases H-1B Usage Reports

USCIS recently published statistical reports to provide “transparency” about “the hiring practices of employers who petition for foreign national workers” utilizing the H-1B program.  Two reports provide a ranked-by-usage list of employers, revealing which companies received approved petitions in the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years. Three major information technology companies emerged as top petitioners: Cognizant Technology Solutions US, Infosys, and Tata Consultancy Services.

Cognizant accounted for the lion's share of approvals each year with at least 15,500 in fiscal 2015, and 21, 459 in fiscal 2016.  Their average salaried H-1B employee received a slight bump in pay year over year:  in 2015 it was $82,351, in 2016 it was $84, 303.

The reports do not reveal personal data on the beneficiaries of the program, but do include average salary details and hiring patterns based on educational degrees.  Such information could be utilized by job-seekers.

One report provides statistical data on H-1B filings from FY2007 through FY2017, including the number of petitions by applications and approvals, country of birth, age, occupation, industry, annual compensation, and education.  This report reveals that the average compensation for an H-1B beneficiary in 2017 was $92, 317.  For the last decade, 42% of H-1B approvals went to those with a master's degree (more than 1.4 million).  More than 290,000 recipients possessed doctoral degrees and 138,000 held professional degrees.  These figures suggest that the H-1B program is utilized by well-educated, well-compensated professionals, and not the entry-level job seekers that critics allege are the principal beneficiaries of the program.

Deeper Details Emerge from FY2016

The recently published USCIS annual report to Congress, “Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Workers” takes a deeper look into usage during FY 2016 (the FY2017 report has not yet been published).   Annual reports on program utilization are mandated by ACWIA and contains some notable data:

  • A 14% increase in the number of petitions filed from FY 2015 to FY 2016
  • 69% of approvals were for computer related occupations
  • 74% of approvals, the highest number, went to India-born applicants
  • 9% of approvals went to China-born applicants, coming in at second place in usage rankings
  • Approvals for those in computer-related occupations increased by 25% from 2015 to 2016
  • Physicians accounted for 7329 applications filed in FY 2016, coming in at 5th place amongst occupations

Recent Trends

April 2017 witnessed a 15% decline in new H-1B submissions, which does not appear to be tied to a dip in the labor market overall. Specifically, only 199,000 cap-subject H-1B visa petitions were filed this year, down from 236,000 in 2016 and 233,000 in 2015.  Yet this year’s application numbers were still well above the 85,000 annual cap, leaving US employers scrambling to fill holes in their labor force.  Reports indicate a rising trend in requests for evidence, causing delays in adjudication and signaling increased scrutiny under the new administration.