In yet another sign that businesses are recovering from the pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received some 308,613 H-1B registrations for fiscal year 2022, selecting only 87,500 from that lot. Some 37,000 entities petitioned for H-1Bs, with 48 percent of them requesting consideration under the advanced degree exemption.
That’s a very different situation from a year ago. “For FY 2021, we received 274,237 H-1B registrations and initially selected 106,100 registrations projected as needed to reach the FY 2021 numerical allocations,” read the USCIS breakdown. “We conducted a second selection in August 2020 of an additional 18,315 registrations due to low filing volume from the initial selection.”
The New York Times recently used USCIS data to determine that, although the visa’s annual cap has remained largely unchanged since 2004, the number of applicants has steadily risen since 2014. While many H-1B applications are ultimately rejected, companies feel optimistic enough about the process to keep submitting—and for consulting and business-services firms, applying for lots of visas is key to their business model.
According to the H-1B Salary Database, which indexes the Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the median salary for a software developer on an H-1B visa currently stands at $93,558. That’s based on data from 1,291 employers in 742 cities.
Between 2016 and 2020, the Trump administration attempted to reform the H-1B; for example, USCIS instituted a more stringent review policy that increased the rate of application denials. Another proposal would have revamped the H-1B lottery system in favor of a system based on advanced degrees and higher salaries. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, President Trump even attempted to ban the H-1B visa entirely.
President Biden declined to renew that ban. And it’s clear from USCIS data that companies have an interest in continuing to apply for more visas. The big question now is what, if any, reforms the Biden administration will take—including ones based around wages. Tech companies remain some of the biggest sponsors of H-1B applicants.