H-1B visas scarce as IT vacancies reach 1.2 million

Jobs in IT professions have increased in the United States. At the same time, it has become more difficult to hire a highly qualified foreign national with the H-1B status. Even though there are more than 20 times more job postings in IT professions than company approvals for new H-1B petitions in a year in these professions, critics argue that foreign nationals are preventing American professionals get a job.

“There are more than 1.2 million unique active job postings in IT occupations in the United States as of September 6, 2021, up 15% from 6 months earlier,” according to data from Emsi Job Posting Analytics, according to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Politics (NFAP).

IT jobs were already growing rapidly before the pandemic, but it is still remarkable to now see a 15% increase in job openings compared to 6 months ago, after an 11% increase from the previous 12-month period, “said labor economist Mark Regets. “This is consistent with the low unemployment rates we are seeing in IT occupations. Businesses have needed a lot of IT (information technology) talent to reorganize their businesses during the pandemic, and many of the changes will be long term. “

For the period August 7, 2021 to September 6, 2021, there were 435,639 active vacancies for software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers, 112,990 for network and computer systems administrators , 110 134 for computer systems analysts, 76 126 for information. security analysts and 47,181 for electrical engineers. It should be noted that these occupations follow the eligibility criteria for H-1B visas, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“To put the more than 1.2 million active job offers in the IT professions into perspective, companies can only file 85,000 new H-1B petitions in a year – and around two-thirds of new H-petitions. 1B sponsored by the company, or 56,000 per year, occupy positions in information technology ”, according to the analysis of the NFAP. “This would mean that there are more than 20 times more job postings in IT professions than the new H-1B petitions typically used by companies in IT professions every year, even if one took an approach. zero-sum jobs. There are probably more openings than posted positions. In addition, there is no fixed number of jobs and highly skilled people often create more jobs for people with complementary skills. The annual limit H-1B has been exhausted every year since 2004. “

As noted in the previous columns, H-1B visas have become essential as they generally represent the only convenient way for highly qualified foreign nationals, including international students, to work long term in the United States and have the chance to become employees. immigrants and US citizens. H-1B visas have been used to enable founders of billion-dollar companies and those responsible for vaccines and medical care to save American lives during the pandemic.

In August 2021, the U.S. unemployment rate in computer and math occupations was 1.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is a significant drop from 3.0% in January 2020, before the start of the pandemic. This is another indicator of the strong demand for highly skilled technical labor.

The demand in IT occupations can also be seen when looking at the top technology companies. “Amazon had at least 20,000 jobs in the IT professions as of September 6, 2021, Accenture had more than 19,000 and Apple had at least 5,700,” according to the NFAP analysis. “Businesses have a continued need for highly skilled professionals to grow, and an insufficient number of available workers is slowing the growth of the US economy. “

The low annual limit for H-1B petitions is a significant restriction for companies trying to employ foreign-born talent in the United States. In March 2021, employers filed 308,613 H-1B records for fiscal year 2022. However, due to immigration law, USCIS was only able to select 85,000 H-1B petitions. This means that over 72% of H-1B registrations for highly qualified foreign nationals were rejected.

“H-1B visa holders do not negatively affect American workers,” according to a study by economist Madeline Zavodny, professor of economics at the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville. “On the contrary, the evidence indicates that the presence of H-1B visa holders is associated with lower unemployment rates and faster income growth among college graduates, including recent college graduates.”

There are over 1.2 million job vacancies in computer occupations in the United States. Economists note that an inability to hire the necessary employees hampers growth and investment in the United States. In short, it makes the US economy less dynamic and encourages companies to move work to other countries.

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