East Coast receives more H-1B visa approvals than Silicon Valley
- Silicon Valley may be the paragon of high-tech innovation, but it trailed metro areas in the Northeast corridor and Texas in H-1B approvals for highly skilled workers from 2010 to 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. The New York City metro area received 247,900 temporary visa approvals, or 29% of the total granted, during that period.
- The Dallas and Washington, D.C., areas were next, followed by Boston and the College Station, Texas, area. College Station received 32 H-1B approvals per 100 workers, while no other metro area had more than five per 100 workers. Pew noted that almost all of College Station's approvals went to employees of one company, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp.
- San Jose's metro area, which includes Silicon Valley, received 22,200 H-1B approvals, or two for every 100 workers, from 2010 to 2016. The government approved more than 859,600 visa applications during the years reviewed.
Although the Pew study doesn't specifically address the skills gap problem, it's worth noting how these numbers line up with some of the metropolitan areas said to have the greatest need for highly skilled workers.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the San Francisco Bay area, Washington, D.C., and Austin, TX, have the largest overall skills gaps. Additionally, while Silicon Valley barely cracked Pew's top 10 list of visa approvals, it is reportedly most in need of highly skilled workers — and also takes quite a bit of political heat for its H-1B usage.
The H-1B cycle began Monday, and scores of applicants will vie for 85,000 visas. The adjudication process may be more complex and confusing than ever following a host of changes to the visa program, such as amendments to the H-4 visa for H-1B visa holders' spouses, a redefinition of what qualifies as a specialty occupation and heightened scrutiny of visa holders who are contractors and take third-party assignments.
A couple weeks before the season opened, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended premium processing until Sept. 10 in order to reduce processing times and address long-pending petitions.
The FY2019 visa period may impact the international workforce many technology companies have grown to rely on. Some have described the impacts as "catastrophic" and "economic suicide" for long-term job creation and maintenance.
Tech hubs outside of the U.S. could stand to benefit from changes to American immigration policies. Toronto, which has emerged as one of the most prominent technology centers on the continent, has seen an uptick in applications from and hires of technical international workers.
With a growing trend of foreign talent coming to the U.S. for university and tech jobs but returning back home, at its current pace the U.S. tech workforce is set for a fundamental restructuring in the coming years.
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