More on the New H-1B Data Hub

If you are a real expert, it can be helpful

By David North on April 3, 2019

I wrote recently about a new data hub provided by USCIS on the H-1B program and the employers that use it. I said that it produced uneven results, and that if you entered the names of the eight Ivy League universities and the years 2015-2018, for example, that you would find that some used the H1-B program in some years, and four of them never used it during any of those years.

All the Ivies use the H-1B program every year, so the results were puzzling.

It turns out that I had simply followed USCIS' written instructions, naively expecting that it would search for, say, Princeton University and Harvard University, by typing in those terms. Not always. I got data for three of the four years for Harvard University and its use of H-1Bs, but nothing for Princeton University.

Had Princeton ceased hiring professors from abroad?

Well, no, I simply did not understand the intricacies of the system, and it took a longish call from an old friend in the agency for me to learn how to handle the program.

You see the full name of the employer, does not necessarily produce data on that employer in all cases. It does, for most years, with Harvard University (one of the examples I used in my posting), but it does not for Princeton University (and other Ivies, such as Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania).

You need to try a shorter version of the name and see what you get, so this is what happened when I tried six different versions of the name "Princeton University" and the year 2018.

  • Princeton: 13 entries, including one for the university
  • Princeton U: 1, for the university
  • Princeton Un: 1, for the university
  • Princeton Univ: 1, for the university
  • Princeton Univ.: nothing
  • Princeton University: nothing

The fourth and the fifth entries are the same, except that the latter has a period, apparently a crucial difference.

In my posting I also said I had failed to get the number of H-1Bs for IBM, using the location as New York (where, I find, it used to have its headquarters.) There were no H-1B workers in New York, but had I used the headquarters, in Durham, N.C., I would have found plenty of data on them. Sorry about that.

The data hub shows lots of numbers for various H-1B applications; the most significant were for initial applications, and there were, in 2018, 174 for IBM, 111 for Harvard, and 87 for Princeton.

My friend and I concluded our conversation by agreeing that: A) I was not very skilled with computers, and B) the data hub still needs some work.