Nursing and Teaching are Jobs Americans Won't Do?

By Amanda Downs on February 26, 2009

Edited by Jessica Vaughan.

Lost in the debate over H-1B visas - which are typically portrayed as going mainly to high-tech or computer programming workers - is the fact that certain American colleges, universities, and medical facilities are also heavy users of this program. According to a searchable list of H-1B employers recently posted on Computer World magazine’s web site, a number of U.S. educational and health care institutions each sponsored hundreds of guest workers in 2008. Using this database, we identified 300 universities and 318 colleges that were approved for a total of 5,755 foreign workers. In addition we identified 465 public school systems, approved for 1,522 workers. Finally, we found 379 hospitals, and 948 health or medical employers who hired a combined 4,787 workers.
The H-1B program allows an employer to hire a foreign worker on a "temporary” basis in a job that requires specialized knowledge and a bachelor's degree (or the equivalent). Medicine, health, and education, as well as architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts are considered “specialty occupations.”

Current law provides an unlimited number of H-1B visas for universities, research institutions, and certain other employers, and up to 85,000 H-1B visas to other employers. The jobs they fill generally are not "temporary"; the guestworkers can stay for up to six years or longer, and often apply for green cards before their status expires.

Listed below are the education and health care industry employers with the largest number of workers approved in 2008. The total number of H-1B workers employed is likely to be much higher. We found these statistics using keyword searches of the database.

Keyword: University
Number of Visas
191 University of Maryland
186  University of Pennsylvania
145 Yale University
143  Harvard University
122 University Of Pittsburgh
121 University of California Davis
120 University of Florida
119 Columbia University
113 Pennsylvania State University
95  University of Colorado


Keyword: College
Number of Visas
89 Baylor College of Medicine
36   Weill Cornell Medical College
35 Albert Einstein College of Medicine
34  The City College of New York
24  The Medical College of GA
23  Medical College of Wisconsin


Keyword: School
Number of Visas
205 East Baton Rouge Parish School System
105  Dallas Independent School District
70 NYU School of Medicine
60 Fort Worth Independent School District
55 Bertie County Schools
47 Caddo Parish Schools
39   Alief Independent School District
30 Savannah Chatham County School
20 Austin Independent School District


Keyword: Hospital
Number of Visas
110  NYC HHC Harlem Hospital Center
109  Massachusetts General Hospital
98  Florida Hospital
70  Brigham and Women’s Hospital
51 Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center
50 Children’s Hospital Corporation
35 St. Barnabas Hospital
28   St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center
24 Sinai Hospital Of Baltimore, Inc.
22  NYU Hospitals Center



Keyword: Health
Number of Visas
141 National Institutes of Health
93 UT Health Science Center
46 Public Health Trust DBA Jackson
43  University of TX Health Science Center
33  Global Healthcare Services, Inc.
30   HH Medstar Health, Inc.
30   Partners Healthcare
30    University of TX Health Science Center
26  Oregon Health Science Center
25   LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans



Keyword: Medical
Number of Visas
87 Mount Sinai Medical Center
74 Detroit Medical Center
70  University of Massachusetts Medical School
57 Howard Hughes Medical Institute
40 Medical University of SC and Affiliates
40   University Medical Resident SVCS P C
36  Weill Cornell Medical College
33    University of Texas Medical Branch
30  Maimonides Medical Center
29   Albert Einstein Medical Center


Previous CIS research shows that H-1B computer programming workers earn significantly less and are typically less skilled and less experienced than similar U.S. workers in that field.

These statistics raise questions about the degree to which the education and health care industries may have become reliant on guest worker programs instead of training U.S. workers to fill these jobs. As the program is currently set up, employers have an incentive to choose H-1B guest workers. While there may be a shortage of workers here who will accept the wages and conditions they offer, there is no shortage of individuals overseas who will accept those terms. As long as the visas are available in unlimited quantities, there is no reason for these employers to train U.S. workers or to improve the compensation. Further, if decent job prospects are limited, there will be little incentive for young people in this country to earn degrees in these fields, which will further increase their dependency on foreign workers. (For more on this question see “Professional Guest worker Visas and Employment Opportunities for U.S. Workers," by Jessica Vaughan).