Data post: Immigration and visa statistics

Reading Time:

  • "Over 1m green cards are issued each year, but the bulk of them—65% in 2011—go to relatives of existing citizens and residents. Refugees and asylum-seekers receive another 16%." Employment-related green cards: 13% (Economist)
  • "visas for Chinese investors are now being put into a queue that could last for two years or more because demand for the visas is exceeding the annual cap. The program is limited to 10,000 visas annually, which equates to about 3,000 to 4,000 investors since family members are also entitled to visas and green cards." (Politico)
  • "Indian nationals are by far the largest single national group of recipients—about half—of employment-based green cards." (Kirkegaard)
  • EB-5 applications from India in 2014: less than 100. (
  • In 2013, Canada launched an investor visa program. (The Economist)
  • In late 2000s, USCIS approved 1,000+ H-1B petitions from Microsoft and Wipro Ltd. (Table 6 in Kirkegaard)
  • “Foreign students contribute over $30 billion to the American economy, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, a think-tank. But few are invited to stay past their studies. The number of H-1B visas, which are given to skilled foreign workers, has barely budged over the past decade.” (Economist)

Data-rich Brookings report:

Employer requests have exceeded the number of visas issued every year except from 2001 to 2003 when the annual cap was temporarily raised from 65,000 to 195,000. Employers requesting the most H-1B visas are large companies subject to the cap specializing in information
technology, consulting, and electronics manufacturing. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations account for almost two-thirds of requests for H-1B workers; healthcare, finance, business, and life sciences occupations are also in high demand. Over
the last decade the federal government has distributed about $1 billion from H-1B visa fees to fund programs to address skills shortages in the U.S. workforce.

Neil Ruiz and Jill Wilson conclude:

Ultimately, we believe the metro geography of H-1B demand and supply should more closely inform how visas are allocated, as well as how the proceeds of the program are distributed to upgrade native-born workers’ skills.

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