IBM H-1B Petitions Hit Hard by Trump Administration Restrictions

The Trump administration’s attempts to restrict the H-1B program have resulted in a skyrocketing denial rate among companies petitioning for the visa. But which tech companies are impacted the most? Based on data from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), it’s clear that IBM is taking a much bigger hit than tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel.

Denial rates for H-1B petitions have skyrocketed to 24 percent through the third quarter of fiscal year 2019, according to the NFAP, which attributes the shift to tighter screening by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The agency sent companies additional Requests for Evidence (RFE) in 60 percent of cases in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, for example, which is much higher than the traditional 20 percent “historical rate” for RFEs.

These denials hit two categories of H-1B petition: ‘initial employment,’ which means H-1B petitions for new employment, and ‘continuing employment,’ which is typically an extension for an existing employee. Let’s look at a company breakdown for the denial rate for H-1B petitions for initial employment:

What jumps out at you? As we pointed out in another article about this dataset, it’s clear that H-1B denials are spiking at subcontracting and business-services firms such as Cognizant. Meanwhile, the denial rate hasn’t risen nearly so much at traditional tech firms such as Google, Apple, and Amazon.

Now check out the company breakdown for the denial rate for H-1B petitions for continuing employment:

Obviously, it’s the same trend here. What’s interesting is that IBM’s skyrocketing denial rates are much more in line with that of a consulting company than a “traditional” tech firm. Of course, IBM offers consulting services in addition to its technology work (such as quantum computing), and it’s probably that part of its business that’s smashing headlong into the USCIS buzzsaw.

In addition to a more stringent review-and-denial process for H-1Bs, USCIS has engaged other policies that have slowed down the program over the past two years. The agency recently began asking companies about the type of work that H-1B visa recipients will be doing, such as vendor agreements, subcontractors, and lists of projects; the heightened rate of RFEs has not only driven a declining rate of visa approvals, but also helped spark dozens of corporate lawsuits against the federal government

IBM and H-1B

The H-1B Salary Database, which indexes Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), gives us some additional insight into how much IBM pays its H-1B contractors. For this exercise, we isolated for the generic terms “software engineer” and “software developer,” as our recent analysis of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) dataset of H-1B visa applications for FY2019 found those were the most common terms for H-1B visa hires among tech companies (giving us a more comprehensive view of salary data).

With all that in mind, what did we find out? At IBM, the median salary for H-1B sponsored “software engineer” was $90,106 per year, although that number also varied greatly by city (as you might expect):

A sizable number of IBM’s H-1B applicants, of course, aren’t even reaching this salary stage. It will be interesting to see if the USCIS denial rate continues to rise over the next year.

51 Responses to “IBM H-1B Petitions Hit Hard by Trump Administration Restrictions”


    Excellent! That’s what we have dreamt of for decades. For so many displaced American IT professionals whose jobs and life incomes were stolen by the cheap labor trafficking “consulting” industry it’s too late, but at least currently working generations will be safe.

      • Michael Jonas

        The IBM reported total numbers (and most of the totals) are misleading (to my view) because they exclude the 20,30,50 Or more mom and pop agencies that each provide say 10 H1-B’s to IBM. The accurate stat is “all direct employee H1-B’s as well as H1-B’s you pay for thru a middleman. That is the true number and so so so much higher than reported. Publicly-traded firms should be required to report their aggregate number of H1-B’s in headcount and dollars. This is due to the repuational risk to their brands (as above and as Disney has seen) and also this should be reported for if and when the anti-slavery embargo begins to impact the Pak-India region.

  2. Every leader has to think about their country first. Not just Trump.
    Still L and other immigrant visas are going strong and also some people trying to put laws to make green card process quicker for their country people. These all must be stopped.
    Also only US born should be able to take up Government jobs (including schools and county elected leaders etc) to preserve corruption free system.

    US is already over crowded. Save US Citizens and their future.

  3. fred mertz

    I know half a dozen people who were laid off at IBM and replaced by H1B workers about 10 years ago. The place is a virtual sweatshop now. The reason is TOTAL compensation which includes, bonuses, healthcare, and much higher payroll taxes. You salary comparison is worthless without this information.

  4. IBM has become no different than Infosys. I’ve interviewed them and they expect 100% at low pay. The interview teams and recruiters are all Indian.
    It’s no wonder the jobs are going overseas. The contracting companies create the software in a blackbox then claim they can’t hand it over.
    Beware dealing with them.
    I agree that all state and federal contracts should outlaw these organizations. However, these orgs love to target the feds and states as they are gullible to low prices without seeing quality issues.

    • IBM, who stole I.T. consulting from independent consultants in 1986 by having Section 1706 porked into the 1986 Tax Revision act. WE who worked on a 1099 based were portrayed as tax cheats and we had to be disposed of. The law is still in effect and many of us have had to form shell companies to circumvent the issue.

      IBM didn’t build a PC past the 286, because they foresaw a dramatic impact on their mainframe business.

      They are losing market share of their hardware business to the PC/LAN environments.
      I hope these traitors go broke!!!!!!!

  5. We absolutely need intervention to save this sector. This is only a small start.
    IBM has become no different than Infosys. I’ve interviewed them and they expect 100% at low pay. The interview teams and recruiters are all Indian.
    It’s no wonder the jobs are going overseas. The contracting companies create the software in a blackbox then claim they can’t hand it over.
    Beware dealing with them.
    I agree that all state and federal contracts should outlaw these organizations. However, these orgs love to target the feds and states as they are gullible to low prices without seeing quality issues.

    • We should have had the TOTAL number of H1b visas capped – cumulative, including all already in the US. And, because companies like Cognizant advertise they will sponsor a green card application for their H1b visas – we should have PER COUNTRY CAPS on the H1b visa program. That would eliminate the bad S386 attempt to reserve green cards for India and Chinese here on H1bs to the detriment of all other countrys’ citizens. After people from the Americas, the next largest numbers of green cards that are granted are India and China – already.

  6. About time this happened. The fake “expertise” manufacturered by Indian culture is just that, fake. Several ngagements with big providers like Cognizant and their “bait and switch” (aka send in a smart, diverse group of professionals to get the contract, then remove them after signed and replace them with idiots from India who have no ability to deliver) methodology needs to end. The fact is they manufacture fact degrees, fake experience and the only reason the US is short in the labor pool for local tech is they outsourced the entry level jobs in the late 90s thus removing the career path for senior level/lead talent now. Thanks Bill Clinton and corporate greed.

    • Michael Jonas

      The IER (India Economic Refugee) is a staple of modern life in America. Of course they ran from their system and in this direction. This should not be conflated with talent.

      Help is on the way with Congress maybe passing “The H1-B Visa only if you registered for Selective Service beforehand Act of 2022” will reduce H1-B applications by 95%.

    • RESPONSE TO TRUTH above. This was sent to Lori Laughlin’s attorney.

      I think what Lori Loughlin and her husband did was very wrong. The FBI did what they were supposed to do because it was a crime. However, in Loughlin’s defense, I think she and her husband are only guilty of doing something that is permitted in every other area of our society and government.

      I have recently been screaming loudly about the H1B Visa issue and the inability vet the Indians that are fleecing our nation. Bribery to get into universities and every other facet of society is a daily occurrence in India as is faking degrees altogether. Apparently, even when paying an electric bill, bribery is involved. Yet, we have opened the doors to America and allowed these individuals and companies like TATA Consulting, Infosys, HCL and many more to abuse our visa system and displace American workers with individuals with fake and ill-gotten degrees and credentials. They also put our infrastructure at great risk. This has been PERMITTED by our government and Congress! You can find many articles and surveys that prove the corruption in the India University system and the H1B Visa scam.

      What I find unbelievable is that when Lori Loughlin and her husband do it, the hammer slams down on them. So is the law saying it is okay if we import it, but it’s not okay if it’s home grown? S.386 and HR 1044 want more of it! Let’s make it across the board. If she goes to jail, HALT H1B Visa’s that can’t be properly vetted from a corrupt societies.

  7. displaced “professionals”…. i met your so-called pro’s. not everyone of them are so…. of course but 80% are… i’ve met them and understand that your ”pro’s” abilities are very narrow, limited only 1 area of knowledge. you have to know and be interested to learn more like foreign specialists.

    • Utter BS. It’s the Indian IT “worker” that is likely to have the single narrow subject knowledge, sometimes due to limited years of experience. And how many times have I heard that we American workers have to excuse their lack of a work ethic due to cultural differences?

  8. The Trump administration’s attempts to restrict the H-1B program have resulted in a skyrocketing denial rate among companies petitioning for the visa.
    Yes! And it’s about time.

    …H-1B denials are spiking at subcontracting and business-services firms such as Cognizant.
    I’m a 60+, semi-retired white guy. Sitting down? I got an email, direct from Cognizant requesting my availability status for a 12 month contract.
    Trump/Pence 2020

    • Wow, you’re easy. Just want Trump wants. If any of these companies go talk to Trump, he will reverse his position. So, don’t jump for joy because you might get a contract at a sweatshop. Be careful what you wish for.

      • More accurately, Trump is what I want and what this country has needed since the post Reagan era.
        What’s easy is the democrat’s vision of socialism. Free everything… until the misery begins.
        You see, I’m of the generation that understands hard work and financial responsibility. I paid my student loans, raised a family, paid off the houses, etc. Sweatshop? Maybe. Or it could be that you just know what work really is.
        In 2020 vote your conscience, if you have one.

  9. KMcmiilon

    Great! Hire Americans. IBM is full of one major ethnic culture that I shall not name to remain politically correct; but if you worked their you know who I am speaking of. They pay them cheap rates which they have to divide 3 ways. Their Sponsorship, IBM and they take what is leftover. IBM has horrible HR practices by nature. They have been sued so many times for violation of HR policies and just basic rights.

  10. Glad to see this. I know my worth, I’m not going to be treated poorly because it’s either the sponsoring company’s way or remaining in my birth nation, but tons of companies just want the cheapest possible labor, so anything to starve them of that, the better.

  11. Consider this analogy. Your gorgeous daughter was asked out by 35 guys last month and she turned down 5 of them. This month she was asked by 50 guys and turned down 20. Would you celebrate this? In the end, she’s still going out with 30 different guys each month. Things really aren’t getting better.

    I believe Tim Cook and other big tech CEOs have conned Trump into believing that fixing this will destroy their industry. This is a great sleight of hand trick that has people looking at the wrong spot. This allows Trump to fill in the H-1B checkbox on his goals list without achieving anything significant. I’m not attacking Trump supporters. I just want you to ask yourself “What’s more important? Trump being viewed favorably or American tech workers getting their jobs back?”

  12. The problem is everywhere in the IT industry. Americans with legitimate degree and skills have been sidelined intentionally. The overwhelming manipulation of the system must be stopped.

  13. Notthatdumb

    I work for IBM, don’t worry yourself we hire plenty of H1’s for everyone we are denied. Most of my co workers are now H1’s for the area i work in. Rest are remote and don’t need the Visas, so there are still ways to get around the caps. Just outsource what you can to get the cheaper labor is what they do even if they have to take it out of the states.

  14. It’ll take some time to recover completely. This has been going on for 20+ years. I witnessed it first-hand in 1999, and fell victim to it in 2008. It’s time the free ride ‘at my expense’ ended.

  15. Anonymous

    BS propaganda, more than ever are coming, trump has opened the flood gates completely, this stupid country can’t get enough of them, they are filling up all companies including top defense countries (citizenship requirements be damned), medical institutions, college campuses, gobbling up all the good jobs, this country is finished, thank your worthless crooked politicians, corrupt business leaders, and shiitehole education system.

  16. I applaud the Trump Administration for doing this. However, it doesn’t seem to be helping here in Greenville, SC area. In the 2000s, I got laid off an IT company here and noticed just before that, entire departments were getting replaced with H1Bs. I worked contract for other IT companies in the area(Metlife, etc) and entire departments also flooded with H1Bs. In only 10 years, the Woodruff Rd area of Greenville’s demographics changed to mostly Indian people because of the proximity of the IT companies. I invite you to come take a look for yourself. I have not been able to find an IT job in the Greenville SC area. I am literally losing sleep also because I’m worried what kind of country my kid will inherit…I worry they will have trouble looking for jobs because of the flood of people coming in. I am ticked that none of the radio shows left and right are talking about this problem enough.

    • Stephanie

      Not seeing any changes here in PA with big new buildings full campus with Deloitte, no developer jobs here. All the government offices here are full of them, was told that is how it works, and that is the new way of the world. Too bad I have 2 degrees with honors, and no job, lost car, almost lost house. But they are smarter than we are, they are needed we are not. They do not believe in multitasking, they come with whatever degrees from their country and it is accepted. We can’t even transfer credits. But whatever, they fail courses and semesters, and asked to be passed because they don’t have money, and the professors do it. Must be nice!!!! They do not see a problem, and if they do they turn their head so to not offend anyone. All my financial future has been drained, 401k gone, IRA gone, savings gone, husband gone to job that keeps him far away all the time to save home, running vehicles gone, bye bye!!!!! White privilege here we are, that what I was told when I applied for jobs, 33 jobs, so it not like I wasn’t trying!!!

      • I am sorry to hear about what you and your husband are going through. I am not sure you are religious, but I will pray that your situation gets better. My kid gets straight A’s most of the time and frets if she gets even one B so she is doing the best she can in school for a better future but I privately fear that may not be enough. I encourage you to write to your congress folks to tell them your situation and also call in to talk shows. All the conservative talk shows mostly complain about immigration south of the border, but H1B is destroying middle class jobs so I don’t understand why not even the most conservative talk shows(Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, etc) focus more about this.

  17. William G

    I am a career IT professional and I’ve been more than a little concerned about this over the last decade or so. I’ve watched the H1B program become a joke and an insult to American IT workers. These companies have lied about the lack of IT talent in this country and as a result the number of H1B Visas granted has skyrocketed until now. I applaud the Trump Administration for finally doing something about this.

  18. I took an online pen-testing class that was completely peer graded. I was looking forward to seeing the submissions of other students as a learning experience. Instead, every single submission I went to peer grade turned out to be submitted by someone in India who had done nothing more than copy and paste a definition they found online somewhere of what Mutillidae is. Some of them were even completely identical submissions. Not a single one even tried to do what the project assignment was, which was to actually attack the application.

  19. How companies get around hiring US citizens is by setting high standards for education. By setting a minimum of a master degree it pushes out US citizens when they are qualified to do the job. That allows them to hire a person with a H1-B visa. Once they get hired they will move onto another position then bring their family. When their jobs are only supposed to be temporary. You look at the Bay Area in california that is crowded with H1B holders and their families. Time to educate US citizens so they can qualify for the jobs.

  20. I worked at Compaq in Houston and at that point I was thinking that I would retire there.
    HP took over Compaq, even when we had 12 billion in cash in the bank???
    I then had to train 5 Indian people then was laid off with the rest of the group.
    Went to Dell the same thing was happening there. I worked on a bench and the bench facing mine had 4 or 5 Indian guys sitting at it. 1 guy worked and the rest just talked all day.

    Went back to HP in houston for a 18 month contract position.
    maybe 5 white Americans, 1 Black American and 20 Indian people
    and 1 chinese. Well the white guys were replaced 1 by one by an Indian
    when I was let go at 6 months into the contract one of the last 2 white guys called me and said
    guess who is sitting at your desk… I said and Indian… Bingo.

    You can thank Bill Gates, and other greedy CEO’s for selling out the US people.
    How many Billions/Millions do you need????
    I have applied to at least 1000 jobs and have had maybe 5 interviews.
    I get calls and emails all of the time from Indian people saying they have a 6 month contract in
    California, Virginia, New Jersey or some other place that I don’t live…
    I just mark the emails as spam now and if I get a call from one I just hang up and block the number. One of the Indian people at HP in the datacenter needed help and I helped him.
    I then asked hom a question a week or so later and he said he couldn’t help me
    because I am not a bearded person… He told me that there are over 100 million Muslims
    in Indian and I guess that was what he was referring to. And every day a bearded guy would
    come to the end of the isle and a few of the bearded guys would get up and follow him.
    He said that they go pray??? I was more thinking it was a cell group.
    Would you want them to have full control of your networks? Your infrastructure???
    Your lively hood, Your future? Your kids future.
    Trump is trying to help the country… But the democrats are fighting him every step of the way. Instead of doing their job and protecting our future and country.

  21. H1B at IBM is a joke. I was to train a landed Indian on customer account. I ended up training him on financial concepts, IBM tools/processes, simple excel functions. This was for 4 years!!!! Hard to fire since he was landed Indian. He had no skills, or knowledge just cheap.

    Another account, my IBM resource deployment manager could not deploy me 15 minutes from home since the pricing tool (Gross profit estimator) was based on landed H1Bs. Cheaper to bring from overseas with housing than to use an American citizen.

  22. I see a lot of hatreds in this forum against IBM and their hiring practice of H1Bs. It’s sad to see a group of people trying to generalize the H1B as a cheap, inferior labor pool and feel this program should be stopped with immediate effect. OK, Go Stop it! Mr. President vowed he would and it’s past 4 years since his promise, it’s not gone anywhere! He is still trying and all the best to him in this effort, but I believe it’s a long process overhaul that US needs in education system. You ensure US citizens don’t drop out colleges and complete their STEM degrees and have the persuasiveness within, to excel in whatever fields they go in, doesn’t have to be IT alone.
    I have worked with many fortune 500 clients personally during my career here, and I wouldn’t generalize American. One shouldn’t generalize. It has always been a mix bag. In my present project, my American Technical manager, doesn’t know how to write advanced SQL, haven’t heard the terms like XSLT and calls himself integration lead. And I have to fill him everyday on ERP business processes and what is permissible and what is not in the cloud world. So, are you Americans all worthy of the jobs you are in? Please question that first before pointing fingers at other citizens, and it’s stupid to generalize a race of people.
    If you are worried about retaining jobs in home, first stop outsourcing because that’s where you lose the bigger pie. Only 2 Indian companies TCS and Infosys employed 7 Lakhs people in India as per 2017 record. There are hundreds of companies in India who offshores US projects. Stop outsouring and you get those millions of jobs back in IT. Go ahead if you can!

    Here are some companies who have their R&D units in India.
    Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, eBay, hp, apple, Walmart, PayPal, Google, redhat, Samsung,, Bosch, Philips, Pioneer, PWC, AT&T, BOSE, Intuit, Fujitsu, Cisco, Nvidia, LG, IBM, Siemens, GE, SAP, Toshiba…Now my finger pains.
    Long story short, it’s a global economy and China, India has been efficiently contributing to these global giants for a while. Pull up your socks to stay competent in the global race.