How Apple, Google, and Facebook Use the H-1B Visa Program

There are two modes of H-1B visa usage for companies that hire foreign-born tech talent: subcontracting and direct hiring. We’ve done the deep digging on the data, and we now have a clear idea how Apple, Facebook, and Google use H-1B in its entirety.

First, we’ll clarify the different ways the H-1B visa can be used by tech companies. The most straightforward way is direct: companies such as Google (we’re just using Google as an example, here, as they’re part of this story) apply for H-1B visas to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS), which is a lottery system. This lottery system is capped; companies quickly filled the 65,000 cap earlier this year for fiscal year 2020.

To get around these caps, companies subcontract H-1B visa candidates. It’s playing both sides; Google can file for H-1B visas itself, but then use subcontracting firms that have also filed for visas to round out its workforce. If a company needs 3,000 placements, but was only awarded 1,500 visas directly from the USCIS, it might seek to fill the remaining 1,500 from subcontractors such as Tata Consultancy or Tech Mahindra, two contracting and outsourcing companies that received the most H-1B visas through the lottery system.

There are other reasons to source candidates from subcontractors. While it can cost more (a company has to pay salary plus whatever fees the outsourcing firm has) it does afford the company employing the visa recipient more flexibility. If a candidate doesn’t fit well with the company, or doesn’t have the necessary skillset, the company may be able to refer them back to their outsourcing firm rather than suffering through a year or more with a bad fit.

The data below comes from a massive (we’re not joking; please don’t click the ‘dataset’ link unless you’re ready to download and process more data than your computer can likely handle) dataset from the U.S. Department of Labor on H-1B data for fiscal year 2019. We passed the data to our data science team because they’re smart people, and have massive computers we’re not allowed to touch. The results are pretty fascinating.

Of the three most notable Silicon Valley firms – Apple, Google, and Facebook – Apple is the most judicious when it comes to hiring H-1B candidates directly. As you can see in the chart above, Apple only hired 836 H-1B visa candidates directly, the lowest of any of the three firms (and nearly half what Facebook pulls in). Apple makes better use of outsourcing, though, and the reasons we listed above may be why. Apple sourced 2,274 H-1B visa candidates from outside firms, which was almost three times as much as Google, and over ten times as much as Facebook.

Facebook, the smallest of these big three tech firms, used H-1B the least. It directly sourced 1,521 foreign-born technologists, but only acquired 183 via outsourcing.

(We’ll also note these figured relate to the companies proper; often, these firms hire – directly or via outsourcing – for subsidiaries and branches. Facebook has several small arms, such as for research and development, it treats as unique entities. We chose to exclude this data for two reasons: it’s minuscule (a few hires here and there), and we don’t have a clear idea of what each company’s various sub-divisions may be named.)

Google, however… Google just loves the H-1B visa program. It sourced nearly three times as many foreign-born workers as second-place Apple, and was far and away the most prolific direct hirer of foreign-born talent on this list. In 2019, Google hired 7,604 H-1B candidates directly, and outsourced an additional 889. In total, Google has 8,493 H-1B visa holders working on its products stateside.

Although none of these three companies hired the most H-1B candidates (that honor went to Infosys), Apple acquired the most H-1B visa candidates via outsourcing. We’ve previously reported these companies most often use the visa program to hire “software engineers” and “software developers,” so these workers’ specialized talents often aren’t directly identifiable. This is likely why the U.S. government has started issuing more Requests for Evidence (RFEs) from employers, which mandates they prove their H-1B hires do, in fact, have a skillset that can’t be found domestically.

13 Responses to “How Apple, Google, and Facebook Use the H-1B Visa Program”

  1. On top of that, In most of the big US companies, when i contractor is hired through US based staffing companies for some IT work, usually he/she can only work there for 18 months to max 24 months in most cases (after that he has to leave)….but if a contractor is hired in US through indian based offshore/outsourcing companies, the contractor does not have time limitation (as they have different contract terms)…..so there are offshore company contractors working for these US companies for many many years…and these offshore companies bring more and more people from outside US but don’t bother much to hire from local jobless pool at a decent wage.

  2. Now there will be comments crying about h1b abuse. These companies pay well above most companies in USA. Majority of US citizen or people on work visa want to work there. New grads make make around 180k in total compensation and people with 10+ year experience make upward of 500k.

    • John Dubchak

      You’ve actually said nothing in defense of your “crying abuse” remark. You and I both know, as do many readers here, that the system has suffered from systemic abuse. This article paints a clear picture of just a part of it.

      If you have some facts that dispute or speak in favor of why Google needs almost 9000 workers on H1B, where any number of those could not be filled by domestic educated Tech Workers in the US, please add them here.

    • The h1B is nothing more than a scam and a ruse to get often incompetent cheap third world labor (e.g. Boeing saga) to work in the US. If the visa was about recruiting the “best and brightest”, it would be filled by people from a variety of significantly better educated and astronomically more successful economies than just one.

      Fact: Over 75% of h1bs go to Indian nationals
      Fact: Only a handful of Indian colleges rank in the top 1000 globally
      Fact: Well over 200,000 people from India enroll abroad to be educated, every single year.
      Fact: Indian recruiting firms prioritize their own over everyone else. Keep in mind that bribes and fake credentials are extremely common in India.

      Therefore, with this in mind, explain how is it that those of us located in the very countries that Indians move to, to acquire an education, apparently cannot produce any of this talent?

      Are you telling me that neither Europe or America or Canada or Australia can produce this talent and skills? Our college rankings, GDP, quality of life, nationwide plumping, etc illustrates otherwise.

    • So are you also boycotting Disney? Not going to see the latest Star Wars movie? Never going back to DisneyLand or DisneyWorld? Because a few years ago Disney laid off all their American programmers and outsourced them to a company that exclusively hired h1b workers.

      The problem is rampant and everywhere. Just like Apple is following the law in not paying taxes, Google is following the law in not hiring Americans. Talk to your Representative and Senators and get the law changed.

  3. Chris Lantos

    Dare someone mention the corporate greed and blatant (((anti-white))) racism that is at the crux of this treasonous scandal? Oh and anyone who frequents the campuses of these tech companies knows that the percentage of native born employees is small and the percentage of ethnic-Europeans is tiny. This is across-the-board true of all major and even minor corporate campuses of silicon valey.

  4. Chris Lantos

    Dare someone mention the corporate greed and blatant (((anti-white))) racism that is at the crux of this treasonous scandal? Oh and anyone who frequents the campuses of these tech companies knows that the percentage of native born employees is small and the percentage of ethnic-Europeans is tiny. This is across-the-board true of all major and even minor corporate campuses of silicon valley.

  5. I sincerely hope these poorly managed companies suffer losses from IP theft they can’t recover from for pulling such pathetic stunts. If they’re going to hire foreigners for tax breaks then they need to be ripped off in order to get the message. Google is evil, Apple is too cheap, and facebook is run by some of the most incompetent people on the planet.