Tag Archives: prevailing wage

H-1B Visas Hard for Foreigners to get in 2017

On April 3, 2017, the annual H1B visa application season will open again with 65,000 standard visas and 20,000 US graduate degree only visas available.

The last few years after the Great Recession has seen the return of the H-1B visa lottery because of the massive (200,000+) visa petition applications received in the first few days following the April open date. This has meant both that the demands from the US economy and largely the private sector in growth areas like technology and the sciences are not being met but also that otherwise fine applications are being declined or not considered because they were just not being picked.

Well 2017 has brought a new dynamic that could bring down much of the most comprehensive professional employment visa in US immigration. President Trump and his administration have sought to undermine lawful US Immigration from the moment they have taken office with disastrous results and strong rebukes from the US Judicial system.

Unfortunately much of the US Immigration system is based on agency and individual personnel discretion. Therefore things likes denying a petition based on technicalities or just because a officer believes a petition is not “legitimate” or in the US national interest in some way. This could also be because of something obscure about the employer, the role or the foreigner can also result in denials. Additionally by slowing down the approval process itself meaning that both the foreign candidate and the employer might have to abandon the petition because of personal life circumstances and/or urgent business need.

So all of the above is already turning many employers away from hiring as well as the additional scrutiny likely coming over the prevailing wage requirement. Now the USCIS has said they are going to suspend the premium processing program which cost employers/filers an additional $1,225 USD. This program guaranteed a response one way or another 15 days following the official receipt of the H-1B petition application.

Many employers relied on this to be able to make business plans knowing that while an approval doesn’t official take effect until October 1 of the year, it meant that through programs like F-1 Visa OPT, ability to work during pending petitions with changing employers with the H-1B portability provision, during the renewal process or just general planning knowing that staff would be working soon, allowed business to continue.

Foreigners also relied on this for life certainty and then things like planning housing, children’s schooling, dealing with affairs in their previous location and just general life issues.

With the combination of longer overall processing times, extra overall scrutiny on visa petitions with roles/employers/employees, harsher interpretations of prevailing wage, the lingering uncertainty over the attempted travel and muslim bans and now this suspension of premium processing, we can expect a far worse H-1B visa season for all.

Ultimately the losers are everyone because as we have talked about before, foreigners are net positive contributors to the US economy and disproportionately are founders of the most successful US companies today as well as recipients of US graduate and PhD degrees and overall STEM degrees.

A sad time for us all …

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Location of Foreign H-1B, E-3 & Green Card Workers

The office of Foreign Labor Certification is part of the US Department of Labor and the source a good proportion of Employers use when sponsoring Green Card PERM Applications under EB-1, EB-2 or EB-3 or non-immigrant visas like H-1B, E-3 and H-2B. This is for the purposes of the Prevailing Wage portion of the application which specifies the role under which the foreign is being considered and that it meets all necessary requirements. The data covers the full year of 2011.

Now while this is not the only official source for Prevailing Wage determination it is a significant source and thus provides great direction data as to where in the US and what types of classifications are most popular. Thus you can see where most foreigners are working around the US (and potentially what areas are most conducive and/or competitive for foreigners to work for US visa employer sponsors) as well as what classifications are most popular.

Below is a full table and we will highlight some of the major points to note in summary. It is important to note as to why you see far more Green Card certifications below (i.e. PERM) vs. H-1B or E-3 work visa certification requests is because the annual cap quotas on work visa are far more restrictive and the Green Card certification can be done at any time, however in most cases under current law it will be many, many years before the foreigner is eligible.

  • California has 21% of all foreign workers and 24% of the Green Card Applicants
  • Texas has the most non-immmigrant workers under H-1B and E-3 visa
  • The Top 5 States (CA, NY, TX, NJ, FL) have about 50% of all foreign workers
  • New Jersey is only the 11st biggest state by population in US but had 4th most foreign works
  • Puerto Rico, a US territory, has more foreign works than 4 actual US States (MT, HI, AK, WY)
STATE Total PERM H-1B/E3 H-2B
All 97,541 80,041 12,879 4,621
California 19,774 18,563 1,076 135
New York 8,912 7,933 652 327
Texas 8,491 6,967 1,079 445
New Jersey 6,279 5,933 197 149
Florida 4,908 3,567 919 422
Illinois 4,693 3,632 1,014 47
Washington 3,863 3,550 273 40
Virginia 3,719 3,226 359 134
Massachusetts 3,614 2,886 378 350
Georgia 2,929 2,372 508 49
Michigan 2,859 2,185 557 117
Maryland 2,729 1,855 750 124
Pennsylvania 2,547 2,094 254 199
North Carolina 1,981 1,275 588 118
Ohio 1,850 1,451 316 83
Connecticut 1,433 1,020 379 34
Arizona 1,303 950 260 93
Indiana 1,064 633 405 26
Colorado 970 703 107 160
Missouri 936 654 193 89
Minnesota 875 713 124 38
Wisconsin 791 569 210 12
DC 770 630 137 3
Kansas 710 349 332 29
Tennessee 686 492 172 22
Oregon 683 551 122 10
Louisiana 645 332 102 211
Delaware 567 508 19 40
South Carolina 558 356 131 71
Alabama 549 350 130 69
Kentucky 492 328 86 78
Iowa 480 388 74 18
Utah 409 261 65 83
Oklahoma 389 298 26 65
Arkansas 370 268 68 34
Mississippi 342 133 161 48
Idaho 329 121 162 46
Maine 298 88 23 187
Nevada 291 240 39 12
Vermont 280 254 1 25
Nebraska 266 215 29 22
New Hampshire 250 192 29 29
New Mexico 236 172 43 21
South Dakota 218 65 66 87
North Dakota 202 105 59 38
West Virginia 181 111 59 11
Rhode Island 165 133 9 23
Puerto Rico 137 82 50 5
Hawaii 114 97 15 2
Alaska 98 37 11 50
Wyoming 98 32 14 52
Montana 78 33 17 28
Guam 76 73 3 0
Nthn Mariana Isl. 45 9 26 10
Virgin Islands 9 7 1 1
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