H-1B Worker Levels Steady Despite Rising Denials

How many H-1B workers are currently in the United States? That’s a question of intense debate among technology and immigration pundits (not to mention internet commenters). Now the federal government has issued an official estimate of H-1B visa holders in the country.

As of September 30, 2019, there are approximately 583,420 people currently authorized to work in the U.S. under the H-1B visa classification. This “authorized to work” population excludes those who “have not adjusted to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, changed to another nonimmigrant status, or been denied a visa to the United States by a U.S. consulate if the beneficiary requested consular processing abroad when the I-129 petition was approved.” (There are some other nuances regarding who’s counted, including the inclusion of those with a valid H-1B visa who were nonetheless stopped at a port of entry; you can find the entire report (PDF) on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.) 

That final figure subtracts consular denials, change-of-status, and adjustment of status, otherwise the tally would have been 619,327. USCIS also crunched data on total H-1B population since 2016, delivering unto us the following chart:

As with the September 2019 numbers, we can assume that each data-point in this visualization is actually a bit lower once you subtract denials and change in status; that being said, it’s probably safe to say that, even with those adjustments taken into account, the curves are pretty much the same.

It’s interesting to compare the total H-1B population to USCIS’s data regarding H-1B approvals, which have declined over the past four years:

Obviously, an increased rate of denials hasn’t stopped the overall H-1B population from staying roughly level. But that might shift radically in the coming years, given President Trump’s executive order that temporarily freezes new work visas. While the order freezes H-1Bs until the end of 2020, it’s easy to see Trump potentially extending it if he wins reelection. 

In that executive order, Trump focused on the COVID-19 pandemic as a key reason behind the move. “Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy,” he wrote. “But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”

Predictably, advocates of the H-1B system criticized Trump’s move. “This is a full-frontal attack on American innovation and our nation’s ability to benefit from attracting talent from around the world,” Todd Schulte, the president of pro-immigration nonprofit FWD.us, told The New York TimesCEOs of major tech firms, including Apple and Google, also voiced their dismay. How it will change their hiring remains to be seen.

38 Responses to “H-1B Worker Levels Steady Despite Rising Denials”

  1. Venkat

    This is sad impact to all affected USC’s and H1B workers. If if it a EO now, why there are still Indian shops hiring H1B’s? It’s a never ending cycle.

    • Albert

      Not sad at all. Rely on your own country for employment. I know many IT professionals who are in the cycle of unemployment due to H1-B visa workers. The H1-B visa has made the once great IT profession in the U.S. a lousy career option. I worked in the profession for 47 years and have observed first hand the changes.

  2. More of the these parasites we can get out of this country the better. H1Bs are not here to innovate anything, they are used for cheaper labor. We have an over abundance of technically trained people in this country. These companies must be forced to pay a working wage.

    • @Rich:

      The COMPANIES and the US POLITICIANS have their own corrupt selfish financial agenda but, make no mistake, the reason the HADJIs are here is that they are here to selfishly steal the quality of life that we true real Americans have built for ourselves over ~250 years. THAT’S why THEY are here … to steal our salaries, benefits, homes, cars, lifestyles, statuses, even women, etc. They contributed not one iota nor ounce to building this great nation and techstate and now, when prosperity looms, they want in. THAT’S why the hadji job-thieves are here.

      Whenever I read some big-mouthed delusional brownie writing about how US IT would be sh!7 w/o hadjis from 3rdWorldCr@pLand, gee, how did we grow the most technologically advanced state in the world long before ~1995, the same techstate that now all these below average mediocre job-stealing hadjis want to come to? WE don’t want any part of what THEY have. THEY want in on what WE have. If they are so “fantastique”, how come they can’t pull their own toilet country out of the depths of technological and economic (and rapier … what the hell is it with Indians and rape?!) despair … and how come they all want to come HERE?!

      We TOOK our country and our freedoms from the British. In’ja was HANDED theirs … a Brit decision, not an Indian conquest. BIG eff’in difference … and indicative of the underlying intrinsic endemic differences in motivations between AMERICAN and hadji workers. These lazy bigotted caste-system xenophobes are anything but what they are trying to convince the rest of the world they are.

      The corporations and politicians, of course, have their own corrupt financial agenda.

      But, in the end, with EVERYONE and EVERYTHING, FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!

      • Scott

        Please at least get your racist terms in order. It’s bad enough being a boiling mad racist boomer but being one that can’t even distinguish between who he’s mad about is just said and most likely why you can’t keep employment. Hadji is a title awarded Muslims for going onto the Haj pilgrimage. Then during our “war of terror” cough excuse me war to give them their freedoms that they didn’t know they even lost the war criminals cough again excuse me “freedom fighting” soldiers who do nothing but fight for freedom and give freedom, money, and food to the poor people in their own country used the term derogatorily and made it a pejorative term. You need to be using the proper insults against the indians who are majority cow worshiping hindus or even christians as they are the ones overwhelmingly taking your jobs and possibly even having a better grasp on the English language than you. Hate who you want just know who you are hating.

        • Chuck

          @Scott
          It’s Mr. Boomer, Scotty.
          If your parents didn’t teach you to respect your elders, you should at least learn to respect those that are smarter and better than you.

        • @Scott, go back to India, and be Make India Great Again. We do not need you. We are racist, and we are horrible, stupid people. Go back to your country.

        • Johnny Quest

          Lookup Johnny Quest~1964…

          Hadji Singh is one of the main characters of Hanna Barbera’s Johnny Quest series as well as The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. Is a streetwise 11-year-old Calcutta orphan who becomes the adopted son of Dr. Benton Quest and also Jonny’s best friend.

    • Agreed. These body shoppers have enjoyed fattening their bottom-lines for decades now. Enough of these H1, L1, etc workers abusing and playing the system.
      These H1, L1’s etc were never meant to be immigrant visas. They have been taking away rightful legal American workers’ jobs for decades now. These h1’s etc should just come for their stipulated tenure, complete that (maybe give a KT to local employees), and then leave back.
      On the flip side, I guess its time America made STEM education more affordable…and a lot more available to the general public. This is how countries like China, India, Sri Lanka, Phlpns, Vietnam, Thailand etc etc have been churning out such IT professionals. A lot of them run ‘IT’ language courses in small shops, garages or some small time colleges etc. So US can also follow suit. Make STEM more prevalent and easily available.

    • Narender

      I agree 100% on that… H1 program is just to benefit the Tech companies and fatten their revenue at the cost of US citizens. Its a big Hoax… Its time to hire Americans first. Feed your family first and then feed strangers if left overs!

  3. 7:38 AM 7/9/2020

    First off, this is complete utter sheer propoganda bullsh!7.

    THAT is obvious … numbers released by the very traitors who authored and continue to support this treason to American STEM.

    These numbers are bogus propoganda meant to downplay the H1B numbers in the wake of Trump’s patriotic decision to suspend new H1B apps to give American jobs to Americans, not grossly opportunistic third world job-stealers.

    Extrapolated, there are ~5MM IT workers in the US:
    https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2016/cb16-139.html .

    IN ~2011, there were already ~650K H1Bs: https://cis.org/Memorandum/Estimating-Size-H1B-Population-US .

    Between ~2007 and 2020, I have research in my personal archives that PROVES that the hadji H1Bs number ~2MM in the US.

    ~2MM / ~5MM = ~40%.

    That is ~40% of the total ~5MM IT workers in the US. It took the US IT industry ~100 years to build its DOMESTIC AMERICAN workforce and just ~25 years (~1995 to today) to be invaded by these job-stealing third world parasites because of corrupt sellout politicians.

    ~40% jives with the approximate percentage hadji job thieves in Silicon Valley, a good economic microcosm to use as comparison here. SV has ~40% of its IT force as job-thieving hadji H1Bs. Many companies I’ve researched like KOHLS, REGAL-BELOIT, JC PENNEY, etc, have almost their entire IT staff as hadji. This is simply both traitorous treason and felonious discrimination, both felonies, both continually UNinvestigated, but not for much longer, if I can help it.

    It is also well-known research that ~99% of all hadjis on H1B never go back when they are supposed to. If their visa for student, work, H1B, etc expires and they cannot get a new sponsor, job, green card, etc., it is a very well known quantity that they simply disappear into the American shadows instead of obeying the law and exiting. I personally know numerous hadjis that are illegal aliens along with their wives, kids, extended family parents, etc, all over here hiding in the shadows now.

    With basically NO hadjis ever leaving the US, with yearly quotas since the early/mid 90s between ~65k to ~1xxK (whatever bullshit number they want to “report” “raising” it to because we all know these numbers are bullshit … they have illegally surpassed approvals every year, DHS has allowed “over-approvals”, traitorous universities have NO cap which is treasonously ludicrous, the reported numbers themselves are bogus and NEVER AUDITTED, illegal aliens are placed every day in IT jobs, etc), there has been an arithmetric sequence morphing into a geometric sequence, ie, the caps over the years pile on top of one another. There is NO WAY we only have about as many H1Bs today as we had in ~2011. NO eff’ing way.

    I have been studying, analyzing, and collecting evidence on the H1B in IT since the early 90s. Also, in the last ~25 years, I have been studying, analyzing, and collecting evidence on IT blacklisting, defamation, libel, slander, collusion, conspiracy, lawbreaking, offshoring, outsourcing, PERM, H1B, OPT, illegal end-runs around the visa-ing systems, university über liberal scum fk’ing our STEM students/workers/systems, green carding, illegal aliens, age discriminations, white reverse discriminations, other discriminations, white male discriminations, black discriminations, hispanic/asian discriminations, 50s-something women discriminations, the horrible output that these job-stealing hadjis perform that usually has to be re-done by an experienced American IT worker such as myself (massive personal experience here), the list is endless, and my personal home network archives are bursting at the seams with over ~25 years of evidence of this cr@p.

    These numbers are bogus propoganda meant to downplay the H1B numbers in the wake of Trump’s patriotic decision to suspend new apps to give American jobs to Americans, not grossly opportunistic third world job stealers. These numbers are meant to “show” that we don’t have “that many” H1Bs here and that “there is room to grow the program”. Horsesh!7.

    Gawd, the propoganda is so obvious it would be laughable if it wasn’t so seriously treasonously traitorous.

    Do NOT be hornswoggled and hoodwinked by this bullcrap hoax.

    After close to ~30 years of the horsesh!7, it is time to collectively organize.

    @Albert: is that you, Albert, out here in the Upper MidWest?! If that’s you, this is P (identity undisclosed for now). Time to organize, Albert! Hoffa ain’t got nuthin’ on this anger!

      • senn lee

        I think it is BS to say the Hi-tech firm can only get innovation guys from abroad. The US has the most number of resident excellent guys on earth, and they built and innovated the Hi-tech valley ever since and still, they are. Many foreign derivatives were copied cat from them, in technical term, they mirrored from them. Give ourselves a moment to mention a few – Bill, Mark, Chris, Steve,.. they’re all from the USA. Lastly, Trump should not completely void nor completely postpone the VISAs status instead these innovated individuals should be considered, not every techies, to match against the number of hirings in their organizations, would somehow force them to truly pick the best hires among themselves. This is good for our country. Honestly, there must be things behind this so called “foreign innovation visa hirings” that has little to do with innovations but only hiring organization themselves know !

    • Another Indian

      I sure can’t be the only Indian who has no friggin’ idea what a “Hadji” is?! 😀

      Btw, these racist rants are so very entertaining lol.

      • Chuck

        Hadji Singh is one of the main characters of Hanna Barbera’s Johnny Quest series as well as The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. Is a streetwise 11-year-old Calcutta orphan who becomes the adopted son of Dr. Benton Quest and also Jonny’s best friend.

        • Another Indian

          @Chucky: Thanks man. See, unfortunately we didn’t grow up watching The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest back in India. The best we got was probably Johnny Bravo, I think. I’ve applied for a GC recently so hopefully I get to stay here and at least my kids would be able to grow up watching The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. 😉

          @SR: It’s okay buddy Hadji won’t steal your job. He’s an 11-year old ffs. Chill. 🙂

        • Jonny quest

          Guess I should have read all the comments first…

          Having said that, name calling reduces the power of the argument.

          Trumps EO is the first slowing I have seen of this ‘replace expensive worker’ program.

          Post Covid I’d like to see the US pull back some on the open border and (sic) ‘free’ trade stuff. We certainly have the resources we need to have our own economy that is not intertwined with countries that treat their labor poorly. Not just IT, all kinds of manufacturing.

        • Narender Reddy Kanuganti

          Yes.. that is correct. Its a shame to blame USA for their policy. Its their country damn it.. Take it or leave it but do not curse .. Go else where to find the jobs.. USA in NOT the end of the fuc.. world.. Your skillset is your survival kit.. Go back to your country and make it like USA then… why weeping and crying.. haa

    • You, sir, are 100% correct. Those numbers are a joke. To the Indian folks insulted by his anger, he has every right to be angry. Put yourselves in our shoes. It’s not personal. Try being interviewed for jobs you are highly qualified for, in your own country, by a non-citizen who only hires other non-citizens and who sabotages existing American colleagues so they can get jobs for their friends from Mumbai. Or worse, being ditched by a fellow citizen who throws you under the bus for a lower paid, arrogant (yet subservient to the right people), less competent, less skilled, woman hating, behind kissing, non-citizen because they like treating their employees like slaves and are so greedy they want to suppress wages for American citizens and eliminate the middle class so that their own salaries & bonuses quadruple. Without a union to protect us, IT workers are systematically betrayed by big tech leaders. Here’s the karmic twist though (there’s always a twist & there’s always karma) the Indians who are filling these jobs (I say this only bc 70%+ of the yearly allotment of H1B visas go to India— i wonder why haha) are literally turning America into India. If you’re not aware, India isn’t exactly Utopia, if it were you’d be there instead of here, right? And, apparently, big tech leaders are so dumb & so blindly greedy they won’t see that the termites have completely devoured the wood of their infrastructure until their houses collapse into splinters on top of them. The Indians who sought a better situation will just end up living in the same exact climate they were trying to escape, because wherever you go, there you are. If you didn’t recognize & fix what was broken where you were, you’ll just recreate more of the same where you are. By that time I’ll be out of tech & I’ll get a good laugh at their expense. And Boy do I deserve that laugh, and HOW. I’ve forbidden my children from going anywhere near IT, which is now overrun with stunning incompetence, time wasting back stabbing, prolific disloyalty, horribly written, achy breaky code, and unintelligible documentation. It’s everything corporate American d-ba* head honchos deserve, and so much more.

  4. Janine Wolf

    Shame on Nick Kolakowski (author) and Dice for leaving this conversation off with the corporate billionaire’s lies- as if they deserve serious consideration, never-mind the last word. It’s textbook liberal-democrat media garbage -spewing the lies of corporate interests, and their pocketed politicians, who need the corporate money for their campaigns.
    Thirty years in IT gave me plenty of time to witness how corporations use H1-B workers, and it has nothing to do with innovation and everything to do with lining the pockets of stockholders at the cost of Americans and American society at large.
    Congress authorized corporations to outsource jobs of workers whose salaries are over 60,000. Then congress tries to placate the laid off workers by spending taxpayer dollars on extended unemployment and “retraining” (look up the very generous Trade Act) for these perfectly able and capable tech workers to trasition into other fields wherein they can start as neophytes, never to earn the kind of wages they were earning before congress sold their job.
    And the parade continues, of kids spending their families nest eggs or going into debt to get a bachelors degree in IT.
    What a tragedy!

  5. The big problem is USCIS purges records and has purged details about H1b admissions. This started during the Obama administration and is why they cannot produce accurate numbers. The given <600k H1b visas active in the US is wildly wrong.

    • I agree. I wouldn’t mind doing a project out of this. I’d like to create a dashboard showing the numbers : how many have entered via H1B; how many have stayed illegally or legally to show the TRUE numbers. Anyone here, please share where I can get these numbers and I will gladly create a dashboard and send it to both Joe and Donald.

  6. ANSAS1985

    This is absolutely crazy to have these racist and bigoted perspective about this whole h1b, lot of people who are talking so anti about h1b visas don’t know exactly how important it is and I can tell you from my personal experience..to be honest we over the years we have lost people who are good coders and mathematicians , not churning out enough to meet the ever growing demand, I work for a large health care giant and being a hiring manager it has always been a struggle to find some one who is good in Machine learning , AI and even a good experienced Java Architect.I am not sure why there is so much of hatred. Well our system is practically hollowed and needs a overhaul so that we have good number of data scientist, java , database engineer coming out from our colleges …unless we improve our system we can’t blame corporates , there were times we had to outsource some of our work as we could nt find people in time…Our first goal is always to find some one who is a citizen and then we go with visa as it comes with lot of baggage.I guess lot of people uninformed or misinformed…

  7. ANSAS1985

    This is absolutely crazy to have these racist and bigoted perspective about this whole h1b, lot of people who are talking so anti about h1b visas don’t know exactly how important it is and I can tell you from my personal experience..to be honest , we over the years have lost people who are good coders and mathematicians , not churning out enough to meet the ever growing demand, I work for a large health care giant and being a hiring manager it has always been a struggle to find some one who is good in Machine learning , AI and even a good experienced Java Architect.I am not sure why there is so much of hatred. Well our system is practically hollowed and needs a overhaul so that we have good number of data scientist, java , database engineer coming out from our colleges …unless we improve our system we can’t blame corporates , there were times we had to outsource some of our work as we could nt find people in time…Our first goal is always to find some one who is a citizen and then we go with visa as it comes with lot of baggage.I guess lot of people uninformed or misinformed…

    • You ONLY know how things are done in your company. I have been a contractor since the mid 90’s. Before that, companies would usually send their employees to learn so the employees can grow with the company. This practice stopped once the H1B visa program started.

      You also DO NOT KNOW the real numbers related to H1B over the years; how many have stayed over; and the REAL percentage of the IT workforce in all of the United States that are H1B and ex-H1Bs and who are now in the US legally or illegally.

      As a hiring manager, how can you really be sure that you have advertised your JOB all over the U.S. so that a capable american that can do the job can apply for it? And if (as an example) someone 2000 miles away applies for it but can’t really compete with the cheap rates your company pays for a H1B, what do you do? Be honest. Foreign Indian workers don’t have problems cramming all together in a small apartment and whatever they earn in dollars is 100x more than what they can earn in India. Whereas the american worker has to temporarily relocate himself/herself to do the job; and f**K up his family life in the process and an Indian H1B is ready to do just that.

  8. Babu Bhaiyya

    Pfft.

    Look at all the Americans crying over their failed system. This was basically Indians in the 1600’s when the British came and plundered them and they were helpless. Pathetic fools.

  9. Anonymous

    Wow. Really can not believe the ignorant comments from supposedly college educated IT professionals. The bad grammar makes me think these comments are from russian bots, but I’ve been working alongside these fools for years and it’s amazing how someone trained in logical thinking and the scientific method could get it so wrong. First of all, you want to blame somebody, blame your corporate masters. And guess who has their back? The repubs and Trump. Want proof? Who authored that massive tax giveaway to the wealthy? That’s right it wasn’t the Dems. If you brain washed Trumpanzees would stop watching Faux news long enough to grow a brain you might see differently. And who could blame people for wanting to improve their life? Maybe more Americans should make the move to another country if it meant improving their lives. But in my experience most IT workers are fat, white, lazy, self entitled blowhards, usually male, and such a move is beyond them. I’m retiring next year and I’m going to try to not even look at a computer. F off.

  10. Brian Quinn

    I’m sorry but unemployment in the US is very bad. US citizens are looking for jobs. Why would anyone even want to come to the US now with COVID-19 and race riots. Burning cities, random shootings, killer virus. Stay home your country probably isn’t as bad as you think.

  11. Can’t just blame H/L visas or India. System and weird cultures are importing from all parts of World because of other visas and chain immigration.
    But Visa holders are here only for their benefit. It is not as stated US Shortage is of Workers or US Economy dependent on Visa holders. If there is a data available for entire 200K+ applicants who applied for recent H1 Lottery we can see how many were just passed bachelors that are being showing as skilled and specialty occupation professionals.
    The new memo which just need a work order at the time of filling (no extra questions) will open the doors again for h1b fruad.
    The best way to stop is before filing H1B, the employer has to post the job ads, conduct interviews and then file H1B(if qualified).

  12. Indian

    Lol I saw an opportunity to make my life better here so I applied for a student visa and your authorities approved it. I got hired after graduation, my employer wanted me to stay so filed for an H1 which got approved. It’s as simple as that.

    If you want to blame someone, blame your government and not people like me who are just trying to survive. I’m here legally and I pay my taxes just like everyone else. I’m from India and I know very well how rising unemployment around you feels like. That is precisely the reason why I moved to the US, because I saw the opportunity here that I did not back in India. Don’t take me wrong, but I think at some point, one needs to stop complaining and do whatever it takes to make your own life better. Even if it means moving away from home.

    And yes, I will go back to my own country at some point. It’s my home. But for now, I’ll build my life and career.

    • Understandable

      Definitely understand – the challenge should not be with the workers because just like those who came across the border of Mexico, any of else in their situation, would be doing the same thing – seeking out opportunities. The issue should not be with the workers but the companies that bring these workers over as slave labor and retain them for years with lower wages. Why is it always people automatically look at the lowest level to raise exceptions as opposed to looking at corporations that benefit immensely from their actions at the expense of yes, American workers.

  13. Does anyone here know if UCSIS publishes the H1b applications and the skills being petitioned to the public (American workers) before they are approved? Since the applications are now done electronically, it would seem quite a no-brainer to first do an online publication of all these job specs and skills that companies are looking for and are the basis of their H1B petitions so that qualified Americans can first signal their availability and apply for the jobs.

    It might also be useful to have a panel of experts from the american workforce that would do the interviews of H1B applicants. The interviewers can be paid by UCSIS, who can in turn recoup these fees from the H1B Visa petitioner.

    Does anyone know if this exists? Thank you.