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Are Less Immigrant Workers Coming to the US?

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H1-B Visa Applications for STEM Workers Rapidly Declining

An end-of-year report from the U.S. Department of Labor noted a 12.6% decrease in the number of preliminary applications for H1-B visas (engineering and mathematics jobs specifically) during Fiscal Year 2021. This is the second year in a row that this number has decreased, representing a 19% decrease compared to 2019 (pre-COVID) data.

While these numbers are shocking, an analysis of overall job categories conducted by Bloomberg noted that this trend is widespread. Across STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), there was a 9% decrease in applications from 2020 and a 17% decrease from 2019.

Why This is Occurring

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every industry in one way or another, and the STEM fields are no different. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record number of layoffs for these jobs in quarter two of 2020, coded as “information,” and has seen a slow recovery period.

That being said, denial rates for H1-B applications declined in the first half of 2021, with only 7.1% of these applications being denied (a 21.5% decrease). If this trend continues, the number of applications submitted will likely increase over the next year.

Eligibility for an H1-B Visa

In 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services implemented an electronic registration process for those seeking an H1-B visa. There is a 14 day preliminary registration period, during which the petitioner and their representative(s) fill out their basic information.

General requirements for these petitioners to practice in their “specialty occupation” include:

  • Hold a U.S. bachelor's degree or higher from an accredited college or university, as required by the specialty occupation; OR
  • Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's or higher from an accredited college or university, as required by the specialty occupation; OR
  • Hold an unrestricted state license, registration, or certification to practice the specialty occupation and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the state of intended employment.

The occupation itself must also meet additional requirements. You can learn more about these by visiting here.

Curious About Your H1-B Eligibility? We Can Help.

Maney | Gordon | Zeller, P.A. provides legal assistance for a variety of immigration needs and can help you through the registration process. Speak with one of our 80 employees by calling (800) 708-4399, or fill out this short form and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Services are available in German, Russian, Spanish, Urdu, Korean, Dutch, Pashto, Hindi, Amharic, Harari, Somali, and Thai.


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