H-1B Petitions Increased 15 Percent from 2011

By Roy Maurer Aug 5, 2013

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 15 percent more petitions for H-1B guest workers in fiscal year 2012 than in FY 2011, with the typical recipient of an H-1B visa being a 28-year-old Indian computer technician with a bachelor’s degree, according to the government’s annual report on H-1B workers.

The report, Characteristics of H-1B Specialty Occupation Workers, is mandated by the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998. USCIS must send this report to Congress each fiscal year.

The most recent report provides a summary of data collected from Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012.

The number of H-1B petitions filed in FY 2012 rose to 307,713 from 267,654 in FY 2011. The number of petitions approved during the fiscal year, however, decreased by 3 percent to 262,569, from 269,653 in FY 2011.

Of the petitions approved in 2012, a total of 136,890, or 52 percent, were for initial employment. The remaining 125,679 petitions were for continuing employment.

A worker may have had a petition filed on his behalf which extended the period in which he was allowed to work for an employer; notified USCIS of changes in the conditions of employment, including a change of employer; or requested concurrent H-1B status with another employer.

The number of workers outside the United States approved for initial employment increased nearly 54 percent, from 48,665 in FY 2011 to 74,997 in FY 2012. The number of workers already in the United States who requested a change to H-1B status increased by 7 percent to 61,893 in 2012.

Indian Workers Predominate

Workers born in India received 64 percent (168,367) of all H-1B petitions approved in FY 2012. The second most prevalent country of birth of H-1B beneficiaries was the People’s Republic of China, representing 8 percent (19,850) of the total. Indian beneficiaries approved for initial employment increased 8 percent in FY 2012, while the number of beneficiaries approved for continuing employment decreased 18 percent that year.

The remaining top 10 countries for approved H-1B petitions, in descending order, are: Canada, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, and France.

Seventy-two percent of workers granted H-1B status in FY 2012 were between the ages of 25 and 34.

Forty-six percent (121,513) of all H-1B petitions approved for workers in FY 2012 showed that the beneficiary had earned the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree; 41 percent (107,045), a master’s degree; 8 percent (22,040), a doctorate; and 4 percent (10,591), a professional degree. Altogether, 99 percent of H-1B visa holders had earned at least a bachelor’s degree, and 53 percent had earned at least a master’s degree. Curiously, 150 H-1B high-skilled visa recipients did not have a high school diploma, and another 30 were designated as “education unknown.”

Computer Work’s the Ticket

The number of H-1B petitions approved for workers in computer-related occupations increased 15 percent, from 134,873 in 2011 to 154,869 in 2012. The number of H-1B petitions for all other occupations combined decreased 20 percent between 2011 and 2012.

The top five occupations with the total number of beneficiaries approved in FY 2012, arranged in descending order, are: computer-related occupations; architecture, engineering and surveying; administration; education; and health care.

The median annual income for all approved H-1B workers in FY 2012 was $70,000, the same as in the previous year. Beneficiaries for continuing employment reported higher annual compensation than did beneficiaries for initial employment. Median annual compensation was $79,000 for the former and $65,000 for the latter.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him at @SHRMRoy

Related Articles:

USCIS Announces H-1B Lottery, SHRM Online Global HR, April 2013

H-1B Cap Filing Season Begins April 1, SHRM Online Global HR, February 2013

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