The H-1B Program Is Much Less Popular than DHS Figured

By David North on August 30, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security has just figured out that the H-1B program is much less popular with would-be H-1B workers and employers than it expected last year.

We learn this from a close examination of H-1B statistics that appeared — not from a U.S. source, but in the Times of India. The newspaper presents the evidence for this, but does not make the point.

Last year the agency pulled just 87,600 names from the H-1B lottery, a 3 percent margin over the 85,000 ceiling on these annual admissions. That suggested that the agency felt that in 97 percent of the cases the employers and the workers would jump at the chance of an H-1 B job.

That did not happen and DHS felt it needed to run a second lottery to meet the 85,000 ceiling; it did so and provided 27,717 more slots.

That was still not enough, however, so DHS went into a totally unprecedented third lottery, this time for 16,752 more slots. So, in the end, DHS had to offer 47,069 slots more than the 85,000 annual limit.

What was happening was never discussed publicly. The additional lotteries were an indication that many employers did not want the slots given to them and/or workers could not be found to fill the slots offered in the first and second rounds of the lottery.

In other words, lots of employers said they did not want the workers awarded, and lots of would-be H-1B workers turned down a chance to work in the program.

That was last year. This year, DHS, which learned a lesson, pulled 127,600 names for the 85,000 slots, or a margin of about 50 percent. So far, apparently, it has not felt it necessary to run a second or a third lottery. This suggests that the industry’s “need” for the program is greatly over-stated, as is the workers’ interest in the program. Most H-1B visas go to young Hindu males from the south of India, as we have reported in the past, not to Indian workers generally; women, Muslims, and people over 35 are rarely chosen by the hiring authorities, who in turn, are usually other Indians.

The way one group of Indians exploit other Indians was noted in a comment that appeared in the Times of India beside the article cited. The verbatim text follows:

Only if you are getting over at least 120K/annum as remuneration move to USA on H-1B visa. Otherwise it is not worth it. A lot of Indian origin employers are selling fake US dreams to Indian employees by paying them basic minimum which is 60K which is just not sufficient to save anything. These evil people want you to slog like anything and will pay you less than any native employees [i.e., U.S. citizens]. Beware of these evil people selling US dream to naive Indians.

That kind of advice helps explain why DHS felt it had to choose 127,600 names to fill the 85,000 slots.