The Effect of the H-1b Quota on Employment and Selection of Foreign-Born Labor
37 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2017 Last revised: 25 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 2017
The H-1B program allows skilled foreign-born individuals to work in the United States. The annual quota on new H-1B visa issuances fell from 195,000 to 65,000 for employees of most firms in fiscal year 2004. However, this cap did not apply to new employees of colleges, universities, and non-profit research institutions. Additionally, existing H-1B holders seeking to renew their visa were also exempt from the quota. Using a triple difference approach, this paper demonstrates that cap restrictions significantly reduced the employment of new H-1B workers in for-profit firms relative to what would have occurred in an unconstrained environment. Employment of similar native workers in for profit firms did not change, however, consistently with a low degree of substitutability between H1B and native workers. The restriction also redistributed H-1Bs toward computer-related occupations, Indian-born workers, and firms using the H-1B program intensively.
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