Is There an H-1B Overuse in Tech and Outsourcing?

The H-1B visa program has been around for decades, helping American employers fill vacancies in professional fields with skilled foreign labor. By hiring the top talents overseas, these employers help boost the US economy and prevent supply chain issues due to gaps caused by open positions. But there are holes in the system that can be abused, and studies show this may be happening right now in tech industries and companies outsourcing labor. What’s going on in these industries, and how is it affecting the H-1B visa? Read on to find out.

A Visa for Everyone — If You Can Afford It

The H-1B visa is designed for any skilled worker in specialty occupations. If a potential worker has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the job qualifies as a specialty occupation, they may qualify for an H-1B visa. The caveat is that your sponsored petitioner must go through the lottery system (unless the employer is cap-exempt), and if their registration is selected, the sponsorship fees are hefty.

This is an obstacle many small and medium businesses can’t afford to overcome, leaving the system ripe for big companies to pull in the best workers from around the world. Smaller businesses that need better talent to stay competitive and grow end up losing out because of the high cost of sponsoring a visa holder.

Bigger Companies Want More Profits

This expense creates a disproportionate number of H-1B visas allocated to companies. Over 600,000 visa holders are in the country each year, dispersed among about 50,000 employers. The downside of this is that many of those large corporations who hired the most foreign workers in 2022 were the same ones who laid off at least 85,000 people between the last quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.

Out of the top H-1B employers, over one-third were found to be outsourcing firms. These entities hire migrant workers and underpay them, offshoring jobs from the US to other countries so they can “beat the system” and use H-1B visa holders to do skilled labor while paying migrants to do other work at a fraction of reasonable pay.

Yet, these visa holders continue to stay in the country, even after getting laid off. They have 60 days to find a new employer willing to sponsor them, or they are supposed to return to their home country.

Although the H-1B visa program’s target beneficiary may be in one of thousands of jobs, most of these workers are employed by IT companies in areas such as software development and systems analysis. These are the same jobs that experienced mass layoffs recently, making it difficult for those laid off to find employers willing to take on the cost and responsibility of sponsoring them.

Too Many H-1B Holders Laid Off In One Area is a Problem

This problem quickly highlighted the flaws in the H-1B visa system. The aim of the program is to fill labor shortages, boost the US economy, and not harm any of the existing US worker’s wages and conditions. But if most of the visas are landing in the same industry, where are the skilled healthcare, education, accounting, and other visa holders?

The recent events of the past year show that the top third of employers receiving H-1B visa employees use their staff to outsource work, exploiting the program and keeping others from obtaining visas for legitimate use. When the system works as it’s supposed to, there are enough visas to fill widespread labor shortages. But now, it’s clear that the tech and outsourcing industries are overusing and abusing these visas.

What’s Next?

The problem isn’t centered around tech workers, although they are key players. The reality is that these mass layoffs resulted in a domino effect of H-1B visa layoffs in other industries.

When an H-1B holder loses their job, they can lose their visa, too. Each visa has terms tying the holder to the employer. They must find a new employer willing to go into a contract with USCIS sponsoring the employee within 60 days.

If you fall into this category, the first thing you should do is contact Visa2US. Our legal experts can guide you along your next steps, helping you seek employment or find other ways to stay in the country legally. We know the clock is ticking, and we want to help you get and keep the H-1B visa you worked so hard for. Contact us today. Our professionals are available around the clock and ready to help you.

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.