The H-1B visa programme allows US companies to employ foreign graduates in specialty occupations – Silicon Valley fills many of its high-skilled engineering positions via this programme.
American companies also use these visas to hire foreign graduate-level workers, including those in medicine, mathematics and information technology. The visa program is the US’ largest temporary employment visa program.
Despite restrictions by the Trump administration, the visa program remains hugely popular. Recently, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service announced it has reached its annual cap of 85,000 visas in just five days.
But where do these visa holders settle at after arriving in the land of the free?
Using previously unpublished metro-level government data of H-1B visa approvals, Pew Research Center analysed which are the top metro areas with the highest H-1B visa approvals from fiscal years 2010 to 2016.
These are the top five cities:
1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
While the reigning stereotype pictures Silicon Valley being flooded with tech workers from Asia, Pew’s data shows this is not the case. Instead, the bulk of approvals (29 percent of the nation’s total or about 248,900 in total) went to employers in the New York City metro areas from fiscal years 2010 to 2016, the most recent years for which data are available at the metropolitan level.
Here, the average H-1B visa holder earns around US$80,000 annually and nearly half of them hold advanced degrees.
2. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
Second on the list is the Dallas metro area with 74,000 approvals – that amounts to around 2.126 per 100 workers. While that may look like a high approval rate, compare that approval rate with another Texan metro area, College Station which holds a whopping approval rate of 31.847 per 100 workers.
At this fourth most populous metropolitan area in the US, the average H-1B visa holder brings home an average of US$77,100 and 43 percent of them have advanced degrees.
3. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
Employers located in this metro area, which is centered around the capital of the country Washington, DC had 64,800 visa approvals during this time period. H-1B visa holders here earn less than their peers in Dallas or New York with just US$73,900 in annual average salary. However, it has a slightly larger population of visa holders with advanced degrees (45 percent) and holds the same percentage of visa-holders with advanced degrees from US universities as Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington.
4. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
This metro area stands out among the top five on this list for its highest hire of workers with advanced degrees and advanced degrees granted by US universities (61 percent and 20 percent respectively) from its 38,300 visa approvals. Workers here also earn the highest among the top five metro areas, with an average salary of US$88,100 per year.
5. College Station-Bryan, TX
College Station trumps all other metro areas in the country with its approval ration: 32 H-1B approvals were granted per 100 workers. Workers here also earn higher than the top three metro areas on this list, bringing home an average salary of US$82,600 per year, despite having the lowest percentage in the country in terms of workers with advanced degrees granted from US universities (1 percent).