Does the Type of Industry / Sponsor Increase Your Chances of an H1B Visa?

One of the questions that H1B visa applicants may have is whether the sponsor’s business influences the award of an H1B visa.  This is one area that applicants actually have some control over, since they are initially selecting sponsors and applying for positions from the pool of US businesses seeking foreign workers.

By now, most applicants will understand how the H1B visa process works, with the first step being finding potential sponsors, submitting job applications and considering offers.  A highly qualified and astute applicant will likely have more than one job offer, and the dilemma is which one to choose based on a number of factors.

Those factors may include the position status, salary, location and company reputation.  But, a lingering question is whether the specific job and company selected will increase or decrease the chances of eventually obtaining an H1B visa.

The Lottery is the Same for Everyone

As far as we know, the annual lottery is completely random, and not allocated or prioritized by business area or industry.  In that case, every submitted petition should have a numerically equal chance of selection. Attempting to ‘game’ the lottery by selecting a particular sponsor just wont work.  Sponsors on the other hand, can increase their chances of hiring a foreign worker by simply submitting more petitions – in other words, buying more lottery tickets.

The Real Test Comes Post-Lottery

Even if your application is selected in the lottery, that is no guarantee of a visa.  It just means you got lucky and beat the 2-1 odds of being chosen. Now the real test comes, as the USCIS reviews the petitions, submits Requests for Evidence and otherwise determines if the applicant and job are really necessary or cant be filled by a US citizen.   That review process will take into account the type of position (is it highly skilled), wage level, location and type of business the sponsor has.

Is the Easiest Actually the Best?

Since the majority of H1B visas have historically gone to IT outsourcing jobs, that may seem like the highest percentage choice for a technical foreign worker to be approved.  However, recent rule changes and USCIS policies have singled out outsourcing companies as the lowest priority when it comes to offering work to foreign nationals. This ‘easy’ option may no longer be available in the future, and any petitions for an outsourcing position will be more closely scrutinized by the USCIS.

Future Trends: Beyond the Traditional IT Employers

While everyone knows where the majority of H1B visas have gone in the past, there are some trends that may be changing.  For example, the eight largest banks in the US, such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, have been steadily increasing their hiring of foreign technology and engineering workers.  In the past five years, those numbers have almost doubled and could represent a new emphasis for H1B workers who can support the financial industry in the US with their technical skills.

Looking at it from a practical standpoint, only 1.2% of all H1B petitions approved in 2016 were in the banking industry, so it is more likely that those petitions will ‘stand out’ from traditional IT or outsourcing companies.  Ironically, selecting a low-percentage, but high value industry, could be an advantage, especially for highly qualified applicants.

Since the new standard for H1Bs is to hire the ‘best and brightest’, a position and sponsor in the financial sector could increase one’s chances of a successful review and approval of the petition.

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  • April 11th, 2018
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