“Top Takeaways from Latest H-1B, L-1 Visa Data”


“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a wealth of information about the H-1B and L-1 temporary visa programs for professional talent, revealing trends about the programs, which employers are using the visas, and the demographics of visa recipients.

“The data from USCIS included a 10-year look back at petition filings for H-1B visas for skilled workers in positions requiring specialized knowledge. 

“…The agency also released data on approved L-1 petitions for fiscal years (FYs) 2015-2016.

“…Here are three main takeaways from the USCIS data:

“Demand Trending Up, 2017 Approvals Are Down

“Organizations applied for approximately 3.4 million H-1B workers over FYs 2007-2017, of which 77.5 percent, or 2.6 million were approved. Over 336,000 petitions were submitted in FY 2017, more than any year in the last decade except for FYs 2015 (369,000) and 2016 (399,000), the leading years for both H-1B visa petitions and approvals.

“Throughout that period, applications rose steadily, except for downward turns during the height of the Great Recession in FYs 2008 and 2009, again in FY 2013 and in FY 2017—President Donald Trump's first year in office. The number of approvals largely rose and fell in correlation with the number of applications, until the significant decline from FY 2016 to FY 2017, when just 59 percent were given the green light. The prior lowest approval rate over the past decade was 74 percent in FY 2010.

“…The L-visa category has also been slowly, but steadily, growing. In FY 2016, over 79,000 L-1 visas were in use, up from 78,500 in FY 2015. USCIS approved at least 26,000 new L-1 petitions in FY 2016, a 2.2 percent increase from the 25,500 new petitions approved in FY 2015.

“Tech Firms, IT Suppliers Are Biggest Users

“Technology-related industries make up most of the companies that petition for H-1B and L-1 workers. About 60 percent of H-1B visas were awarded to workers in computer-related occupations over the last decade.

“…While the majority of H-1B workers are employed throughout the tech industry, the leading H-1B and L-1 employers are foreign-based IT staffing and consulting firms.

“…Visas Mostly Go to Indian Millennials

“Most H-1B and L-1 visa filings are for Indian nationals, who account for 64 percent of all H-1B filings since 2007. China is next with 9 percent of all filings, followed by the Philippines, South Korea, Canada and Taiwan with much lower totals. However, the number of H-1B visa petitions for Indian nationals in FY 2017 actually declined for the first time in seven years.

“…The majority of H-1B visas (69 percent) go to individuals ages 25-34, followed by workers ages 35-44 (22 percent.) Most H-1B employees have at least a bachelor's degree, and the majority hold master's degrees.”

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