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The H-1B visa race continues: Which regions received the most?

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Brookings Institute – Neil G. Ruiz and Jill H. Wilson

To help inform the H-1B debate, we analyzed new data (received through a Freedom of Information Act request) showing which metropolitan areas received the most H-1B visa approvals in 2013.

Our past research examined the number of applications that employers submitted by metro area, but those data did not indicate how many of the visas were approved. As such, they were a measure of demand for these workers. With approvals data, we can tell which regional labor markets ultimately received the most high-skilled foreign workers in 2013. That year marked the first since 2008 in which the cap was reached in the first week. USCIS instituted a lottery that ultimately denied 39,000 H-1B visa applications.

These data show that high-skilled foreign workers are concentrated in a small number of places. Half of all approved H-1B petitions nationwide went to only nine metropolitan areas, and one-quarter went to just three: New York, Dallas, and San Jose—home of Silicon Valley. New York, with over 29,000 approvals, had by far the highest number. Dallas and San Jose had almost 20,000 and 16,000 approvals, respectively. The 14 metro areas with at least 5,000 approved applications in 2013 are listed in Table 1. Durham, N.C.—a hub of education and R&D— received a surprisingly high number of approvals, given that it is a much smaller metro area than the others on this list.

For the full story, read the Brookings Institute report

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