H-1B Employers Ask for Fewer Workers This Year Than Last

By David North on April 13, 2018

The H-1B employers, who have been ranting about the shortage of high-tech talent in the United States, reduced the number of requests for such workers again this year compared to last year, and that year's total was lower than the previous year. Such filings take place once a year, and USCIS has just announced the new, lower total.

Here are the total requests for the last three years:

  • 2018: 190,098
  • 2017: 199,000
  • 2016: 236,000

One might notice a trend, particularly in view of the rarely discussed fact that employers can overstate their alleged "need" for such workers, at no cost to themselves. (The lobbyists then use the gap between the applications filed and the ceiling as a reason to expand the ceiling.)

An overly employer-friendly Department of Homeland Security actually refunds H-1B fees if an application does not result in a worker. There is widespread suspicion that many H-1B users overstate their actual requirements, because when there is a surplus of applications over visa slots, the visas are distributed by lottery. If the employer is seeking 300 workers, he may file for 900, in the hopes that he will wind up with the 300. And if the firm does not pay for this exaggeration, why not do it?

H-1B employers are, by definition, well-to-do. What happens to a poor man, a green card holder who fails his naturalization test? (Most don't; the test is not hard.)

The unskilled alien is not getting what he wanted out of the system, just as the H-1B employer with a denied petition is not getting what he wants. Are the two treated the same way?

Of course not. The rich employer gets his application fee back, but the failed naturalization applicant, given the right set of circumstances, is told "sorry buddy, we keep your money."

To be fair, this discrepancy is not a new one; it happened under prior administrations as well, as we have reported earlier. The alien has to fail his naturalization test twice before he loses his fee, but the would-be H-1B employers can fail to get the workers they want hundreds of times, and each and every time that happens they get their money back.