Which states and cities are leveraging the most H-1B visas?
According to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, New York City racked up the most H-1B visa approvals between 2010 and 2016, with 29 percent of the total, followed by the Dallas and Washington, D.C. metro areas, then Boston.
But the city with the greatest concentration of H-1B approvals wasn’t New York City, Seattle, or even Boston—it was College Station, Texas, with 32 visas approved for every 100 workers. (Some 99 percent of those went to Cognizant, which is headquartered in College Station.) By contrast, even a tech-heavy city like San Jose had no more than two approvals per 100 workers:
Overall, the U.S. government approved 859,600 H-1B applications during that six-year period. “Nationwide, foreign workers approved for H-1B visas earned an average of $80,600 in fiscal 2010-2016,” Pew added in its report. “Bridgeport, Connecticut, had the highest average salary ($100,200) of any metro area, followed by Seattle ($98,100) and Phoenix ($97,100).” (In College Station, the average salary stood at $82,600.)
Ever since President Trump took office, the tech industry has expected his administration to engage in sweeping H-1B visa reform. And so far, that hasn’t happened, although he did order the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and State to all review H-1B policy with an eye toward revamping it. Attempts to address H-1B from the Congressional side have largely stalled, with various bills mired in committees.
In lieu of big reform, the Trump administration has engaged in some piecemeal actions, including a measure that prevents the spouses of H-1B visa holders from obtaining the H-4 visas that would allow them to work in the United States. Six members of Congress from California have signed a letter asking the Department of Homeland Security to revisit that decision, suggesting that curtailing H-4 visa holders would “create significant uncertainty and financial hardship for many highly skilled professionals who are vital to our economy.”
In the meantime, at least according to Pew’s data, the pattern of H-1B approvals seems to largely align with what you’d expect: major tech hubs such as Silicon Valley, Boston, and New York City have the highest concentrations, aside from a few “hot spots” such as College Station and Durham-Chapel Hill (in North Carolina). But in most of those areas, H-1B workers only make up a small fraction of total employees.