How H-1B availability is contributing to candidate shortage

Many headlines recently have shown the labor shortage in the United States, and few industries have as large of a gap to fill as the computer science industry. In fact, “There are more than 1.2 million unique active job vacancy postings in computer occupations in the United States as of September 6, 2021, up 15% from 6 months earlier,” according to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP). This is a sector that has traditionally been filled with foriegn talent, largely with highly skilled professionals from various parts of Asia through the H-1B visa


So, what gives? Where is all the technology talent?


Currently, the scale at which technology companies are growing is vastly disproportionate to the amount of H-1B visas available in the annual allotment. In March 2021, employers filed 308,613 H-1B registrations for FY 2022. However, due to immigration law, USCIS could select only 85,000 H-1B petitions. That means over 72% of H-1B registrations for high-skilled foreign nationals were rejected. This is concerning for a variety of reasons, most notably the following:


A lack of skilled technology professionals puts American innovation at risk. One of the preferred go-to arguments against the H-1B program is that these foreign nationals are taking jobs from qualified Americans. However, that has been debunked as studies show there simply aren’t enough trained American citizens here to fill these roles. Additionally, tech companies could simply expand international teams and hire foreign talent in localized parts of the world, outsourcing American jobs. 


Interest in coming to the United States could plummet. Restrictions on the amount of H-1B visas granted each year, also known as the cap, means that foreign nationals who are looking to advance their careers in other countries could look toward other competitive nations where these work visas can be more easily obtained. This supports the previous point of contributing to a risk of innovation as tech talent begins to look elsewhere. 


As the program currently operates, there is a need to craft a compelling and competitive application to better your odds in the H-1B visa lottery. Advanced degrees are a differentiating factor, for example, Master’s degrees holders could be exposed to two lotteries instead of one. 


If you are a foreign national looking to pursue an H-1B opportunity in the United States, the first step you and your prospective employer should do is secure an H-1B immigration attorney. The sooner you begin the process, the better, as these applications can be very time consuming and petitions require various sources of evidence and supporting documentation. Contact our team of attorneys today for a complimentary consultation.