Over the past few months, the U.S. economy has seen favorable labor market data as unemployment has trended down. In order to drive economic growth, President Trump has promised to reform the H1-B visa – the non-immigrant employment visa for foreign workers – to encourage companies to "hire American." Here's a look at who gets these visas, where they work and why the government is considering a regulatory overhaul.

How Many H1-B Visas Are Allotted per Year?

The 2018 cap for H1-B visas is set at 65,000 in the general category and 20,000 in the advanced degree exemption or masters cap category, though the allotment process includes a lottery system due to the large number of applications. For the 2016 fiscal year, the USCIS received close to 233,000 petitions.

Below is a visualization that looks at the number of requests received and approved every year for the H1-B Visa. This includes applications for initial employment under H1-B as well as continuing employment though visa extension.

The difference between the two also looks narrow because not all requests filed each year get processed and approved within the same year.

Who Gets H1-B Visas?

According to U.S. Department of State data, more than 70% of the H1-B Visas approved in FY2016 were awarded to Indians. Workers from China were the second largest group of H1-B awardees, followed by Mexicans and South Koreans.

India has ranked at the top in terms of H1-B visas for more than two decades now. The Trump administration has vowed to crackdown on fraud and abuse of these visa regulations creating a perception that cheaper labor has led to misuse of the employment visa and crowded out American workers. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most recent visit to the White House, however, no explicit dialogue took place on the H1-B issue.

Which Companies File for H1-B Visas?

Since exact data of successful H1-B filings is not available, one good measure to gauge the kind of companies that file for this visa on behalf of their employees is the Labor Condition Application (LCA). The LCA is a U.S. Department of Labor approval required prior to the actual H1-B filing. Every year more LCAs are approved by the Labor Department than the number of H1-B allotments.

Consulting firm Cognizant Technology Solutions filed for LCA approvals for the most number of employees in 2016. While the company is the top employer in terms of LCA filings in many states, Apple Inc. (AAPL​) leads LCA applications with 17,630 employees in California, and Microsoft does so in Washington State with LCA requests for 8252 employees.

Hover over each state to see the top LCA application filing employer in each state.

Which Jobs See the Most Applications?

According to data from the Labor Department, the job role that sees the maximum number of LCA applications is Software Developer/Computer Programmer, followed by Computer Systems Analysts, people working in other computer related occupations and Management Analysts.

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