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Welcome to the Quick Read series where we publish a short piece on a specific topic around high-skilled immigration. Follow me on LinkedIn where I publish one such piece every day.
In this Quick Read series, I share details about how life on an H-1B in the USA has steadily become unsustainable in the recent past.
What is the H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa program in the United States that allows employers to temporarily hire skilled foreign workers in specialized occupations. This contributes to the country's workforce and fills gaps in specific industries. It is a valuable program that allows highly skilled workers from around the world to work in the U.S., and support the growth of American businesses.
But, the U.S. government follows an outdated immigration system that only allows 85,000 people each year to live in the U.S. as employees.
This means the pathway to residency in America for skilled immigrants is seriously flawed, and here's a breakdown of some concerning statistics:
Breaking down H-1B numbers from 2022
The number of yearly H-1B applications reached an astonishing 480,000 in 2022. This reflects the immense demand among people to work in the United States.
Out of those applications, only 85,000 H-1B visas were granted, resulting in a success rate of less than 20%. Remarkably, this success rate has remained consistent over the past 32 years.
If you actually did get approved for an H-1B, worked in the U.S. for a few years and raised a family in the country, you would probably want to live here permanently. That requires a green card. How long do you think it’d take you to get one? Take a guess.
Green card wait time for Indian H-1B workers
On average, Indian H-1B holders face a daunting wait time of 50+ years for a permanent residency permit, otherwise known as the green card. This estimation is based on the current backlog of over 400,000 Indians awaiting a green card. The wait time even skyrocketed to an insane 195 years in late 2020. So what could be the reason for Indian H1-B workers continuing to stay in the U.S.?
Average wages for H-1B workers
The median salary for H-1B workers stands at $106,000, showcasing the competitive compensation packages offered to these skilled individuals.
Notably, those working at top tech companies enjoy even higher median salaries, with figures reaching $175,000. This demonstrates the exceptional skill and talent possessed by these professionals. But it is not a completely rosy picture given layoffs in the recent past.
Layoffs in recent years
Between 2019 and 2022, approximately 45,000 H-1B holders were affected by major layoffs at six prominent companies, including Meta, Lyft, Twitter, Amazon, Salesforce, and Stripe.
In such cases, H-1B employees face a critical period of 60 days, after which they are required to leave the country.
Even if we assume that only 10% of H-1B workers at those six companies were affected, it still means around 5,000 highly skilled employees are now in a race against time to find a new job within 60 days.
Many immigrants on H-1Bs arrived in America for education, invested significant money in tuition fees, paid taxes, and are now being forced to leave. Let's not forget those who have been in America for decades, having bought homes, started families, and raised children.
As a result, it's inevitable that some immigrants will have to return home or seek opportunities in countries like Canada, the UK, Australia, or elsewhere with more favorable immigration policies.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult a licensed immigration attorney for advice specific to your situation. Want to be connected with one? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.