EAST COAST, BEST COAST

These US cities attract the most H-1B talent

Quartz india
Quartz india

The US region that draws the most H-1B talent is the East Coast metropolitan area—not Silicon Valley as is often believed.

Between fiscal years 2010 and 2016, it is the firms based in the East Coast metropolitan area that employed a majority of high-skilled foreign workers on H-1B visas, an analysis by the Pew Research Center shows. This area includes New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Detroit.

In fact, during this six-year period, New York City-based employers bagged the most H-1B visa approvals (247,900), according to US government data obtained by Pew.

Despite being home to some of the world’s biggest technology companies, the San Jose, California, metro area, which is home to Silicon Valley, trailed the East Coast on this measure, the Pew analysis shows. The area had 22,200 H-1B approvals between 2010 to 2016, amounting to a mere two approvals per 100 workers.

The H-1B visa allows foreign talent to stay and work in the US for up to six years and a majority of these are used by Indian IT companies (pdf).

The data on this visa category were obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through a Freedom of Information Act request. They include employer names and locations but excludes worker locations.

In terms of the density of H-1B approvals, College Station in Texas was a clear chart-topper with around 32 approvals per 100 workers, Pew Research said.

And nearly all the allotments in College Station went to one employer, Cognizant Technology Solutions, whose US headquarters are in the region. Over half of the Nasdaq-listed IT firm’s workforce, 180,000 employees, is based out of India. Cognizant is among the major H-1B visa applicants every year—in 2016, it was granted the most approvals (21,459).

While the average annual salary for H-1B visa holders stood at $80,600 in fiscal years 2010-2016, Pew found that employers from Bridgeport, Connecticut, doled out the highest at over $100,000. This was followed by Seattle—home to e-retail behemoth Amazon—at $98,100.

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