The H-1B program is commonly used by U.S. employers looking to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations – such as engineers, scientists, and computer programmers – that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, and, according to an NPR article, the tech industry is the prime beneficiary of the H-1B visa program. In fact, not only are tech companies the biggest recipients of H-1B visas, but they are also asking Congress to increase the number of H-1B visas made available each year.
Surprisingly, however, the biggest employers of foreign tech workers are not actually technology developers, but consulting companies, commonly known as “offshore-outsourcing firms.” The article reports that the top 10 recipients in the past fiscal year were all offshore-outsourcers, grabbing 40,000 of the 85,000 visas. Cognizant, a firm based in New Jersey, received 9,000 new H-1B visas alone. Infosys, Wipro, and Tata – which are all Indian firms – following closely behind.
Illinois H-1B Visa Employers
In 2011, Illinois employers were the fifth biggest recipient of H-1B visas behind California, New York, Texas, and New Jersey, receiving approximately 6,500 H-1B visas. Among the top 20 H-1B visa employers in Illinois in 2011 were technology companies like Verinon Technology Solutions and Motorola, as well as a number of universities such as University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Illinois, and the University of Chicago. Manufacturing companies like Caterpillar and Abbott Laboratories were also among the top 20 Illinois H-1B visa recipients in 2011.
H-1B Visa Eligibility Requirements
Given that the H-1B visa is intended for employees with technical expertise in specialized fields, it isn’t all that surprising that technology companies, universities, and manufacturers are among the top employers to apply for and receive these visas. In order to qualify for an H-1B visa, the following requirements must be met:
The applicant’s job position requires a bachelor’s or higher degree;
The applicant possesses at least a bachelor’s degree or its U.S. equivalent, or a combination of education and marketing experience equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree; and
The wage offered to the applicant is at least the prevailing wage, or the actual wage paid to other marketing professionals similarly employed, whichever is higher.