Companies in metro areas in Texas and on the East Coast—not Silicon Valley or San Francisco—employed the most H-1B recipients between 2010 and 2016, according to a Pew Research Center report.
By filing a public records request, Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C., obtained the government data on H-1B visa approvals by metro area from fiscal years 2010 to 2016. The think tank issued the report just days before the annual H-1B lottery began.
On April 2, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting H-1B petitions filed by employers for highly-skilled foreign workers for this year’s lottery. The H-1B visa enables companies to hire foreign workers for specialized jobs when they cannot find qualified American workers to fill them.
The biggest temporary employment visa program in the U.S., H-1B visas made up nearly 25% of all temporary employment-based visas issued in 2016, according to Pew. Many H-1B applications come from technology, financial, and other firms requiring specialized knowledge. USCIS approved nearly 860,000 H-1B petitions from 2010 to 2016.
The H-1B visa program has long been controversial. Critics contend that companies take advantage of the program to hire foreign workers for lower pay. In the process, companies displace Americans from jobs and put downward pressure on salaries. In fact, ads denouncing the H-1B program for those reasons popped up in BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stations around the Bay Area and inside BART train cars last month.
Still, companies in the Bay Area employ far fewer H-1B visa holders compared to companies in other parts of the country, primarily on the East Coast and in Texas.
Where Are Most H-1B Recipients?
The top five metro areas that received the most H-1B visas from 2010 to 2016 were:
- New York-Newark-Jersey City: 247,900 (29% of the U.S. total)
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington: 74,000 (9%)
- Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria: 64,800 (8%)
- Boston-Cambridge-Newton: 38,300 (4%)
- College Station-Bryan, Texas: 37,800 (4%)
Silicon Valley, which includes San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara, ranked 10th, receiving 22,200 H-1B visas—or 3% of the visas issued between 2010 and 2016. The San Francisco metro area, which includes Oakland and Hayward, ranked 14th, receiving 11,300 H-1Bs, or just 1%.
College Station in Texas had a whopping 32 H-1B visa holders per 100 workers. According to the Pew Research report, most of the H-1B visas went to employees of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., an IT services company. No other metro area had more than five H-1B visa holders per 100 workers. After College Station, Trenton, N.J., was next on the list with nearly 5 H-1B visa holders per 100 workers. The Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C., area was next with 4 H-1B visa holders per 100 workers.
The New York area had 3 per 100 workers. Silicon Valley had just 2 per 100 workers. San Francisco had less than 1.
Where Do H-1B Recipients Get Paid the Most?
Nationwide, H-1B visa holders earned an average of $80,600. The top five areas where employers paid the highest salaries to H-1B visa recipients were:
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk: $100,200
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue: $98,100
- Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale: $97,100
- Fayetteville, Ark.-Springdale-Rogers, Mo.: $91,600
- Denver-Aurora-Lakewood: $91,300
In comparison, H-1B visa holders in the San Francisco metro area received an average salary of $90,500. H-1B visa holders in Silicon Valley received $88,000, and in the New York area, $80,000. In College Station, which has the highest concentration of H-1B visa holders, those workers earn an average of $82,600.
Where Are the Most Educated H-1B Recipients?
Pew Research found nearly half of all H-1B visa recipients in recent years have a master’s or higher degree earned either in the U.S. or internationally. The most highly educated H-1B workers were mostly in metro areas with relatively small concentrations of H-1B workers. The top five areas that had the highest concentration of H-1B visa holders with advanced degrees were:
- Erie, Pa.: 75%
- Memphis, Tenn., and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale: 69%
- Sacramento-Roseville-Arden: 68%
- San Diego-Carlsbad and Gainsville, Fla.: 67%
- New Haven-Milford, Conn.: 66%
In comparison, 53% of H-1B visa holders in Silicon Valley hold advanced degrees, 51% in the San Francisco area, and 47% in the New York area.
The top three areas where H-1B workers earned an advanced degree from a U.S. institution are:
- San Diego: 28%
- Oklahoma City, Ok., and Gainesville, Fla.: 27%
- Ann Arbor, Mich.: 25%
In both Silicon Valley and San Francisco, 15% of H-1B visa holders in those areas hold an advanced degree from a U.S. institution. In New York, that figure is 13%.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team believes immigration yields innovation. We help employers and their current or prospective employees with filing H-1B petitions. We also help companies and individuals devise alternatives if an H-1B petition is not selected in the lottery. Contact us.