Immigrants with H1-B Visas in US Hits All Time Low

1 Dec, 2021 13:19 IST|L Manisha

This year, the number of H1-B visa holders working in high-tech positions in the United States fell by the highest in at least a decade, owing to travel and visa limitations, despite record-high job opportunities in the field.

According to a Bloomberg News examination of US Department of Labor data, the number of foreign engineering and mathematics employees on H-1B visas declined 12.6% in the fiscal year ended September 2021 compared to the previous year.

It was the second year in a row that a portion of the workforce that had witnessed constant employment growth had declined. According to immigration attorneys and experts, the decline was mostly attributable to a considerable slowdown in visa processing during lockdowns and tougher immigration restrictions as a result of the epidemic. The number of H-1B employment cases for engineering and mathematics jobs was down 19% this year compared to pre-Covid levels in 2019.

"Travel restrictions have slowed and nearly halted the processing of any new visas since March 2020," said Giovanni Peri, an economics professor at the University of California, Davis. According to Peri, some professions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, may be lost for good due to the visa shortage since remote work might be offshoring them outside of the US.

After an unexpected suspension across all embassies and consulates in 2020, several US visa processing facilities have restarted at a slower rate. President Joe Biden allowed a Trump-era limit on H-1B visas to lapse earlier this year.

The H-1B visa program permits US firms to hire highly qualified foreign workers in industries such as coding and engineering. The initiative is especially important to the tech industry, which is experiencing a labour shortage. A great majority of H-1B visas are awarded for engineering and mathematical employment.



The system is limited to 85,000 new visas per year, but foreign employees who get H-1B visas can change jobs, move firms, or have their visas extended. In addition to new employees, these extra certificates contribute to a wider measure of job activity inside the program.

During the fiscal year 2021, this aggregate statistic for all employment categories was more than 497,000, a 9% fall from 2020 and a 17% decrease from 2019. Bloomberg News examined data dating back to 2011. According to immigration attorney Nandini Nair, a partner at Greenspoon Marder, the decrease in recruiting for H-1B foreign STEM professionals demonstrates that the field of technology was not immune to the disruptions produced by Covid-19, but it was damaged to a smaller amount compared to other businesses.



In March and April of last year, there were a record number of layoffs in STEM positions. However, the industry rebounded fast and had lesser unemployment during the epidemic than other businesses. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were a record 230,000 job opportunities in the information industry in September.
 

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