Companies that rely on the H-1B visa program to fill their positions should take a look at how big tech companies combine direct petitions for H-1B visas with obtaining H-1B visa holders from outsourcing firms. Combining these approaches allows large technology firms to secure far more H-1B visa workers than they could otherwise secure each year because of the annual caps.
H-1B Visa Annual Caps
H-1B visas are nonimmigrant employment visas that allow U.S. companies to hire international workers to fill positions for which they cannot find enough U.S. workers. Since there is a shortage of workers in many science, technology, engineering, and math fields, many companies in Illinois and across the U.S. petition for H-1B visas to fill their empty positions. However, the government sets an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas it issues at 65,000 plus an additional 20,000 for positions that require advanced degrees. The employers must petition on behalf of their workers during a short window, and the cap is quickly met every year. The H-1B visa program is highly competitive, meaning many companies do not receive the number of workers that they need through the petitioning process. Big technology companies, including Facebook, Google, and Apple use strategies to secure more H-1B visa employees to fill their open positions, however.
Strategies Used by Big Tech
To try to secure more H-1B visas, large technology companies file thousands of direct petitions with the USCIS each year. However, a company like Google might need 5,000 H-1B visa workers and be approved for half of that number. To deal with the issue of having so many unfilled positions, these companies rely on outsourcing firms. These firms also petition for H-1B visas on behalf of tech workers. Large technology companies then pay the outsourcing firms to subcontract their employees so that their positions can be filled.
For example, during the fiscal year 2019, Apple directly petitioned and was approved for 836 H-1B visa employees. The company subcontracted an additional 2,274 H-1B visa workers from outsourcing firms for a total of 3,110 during the year. Google also benefitted from subcontracting workers from outsourcing firms. However, it directly petitioned and was approved for 7,604 H-1B visas. The company subcontracted another 889 H-1B visa employees for a total of 8,493 during the fiscal year. Seeing how Big Tech handles the H-1B visa program demonstrates there are ways to get around the annual caps.