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Outsourcing and Skill Imports: Foreign High-Skilled Workers on H-1B and L-1 Visas in the United States

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  • Jacob Funk Kirkegaard

    ()
    (Institute for International Economics)

Abstract

This working paper looks in detail at the H-1B and L-1 visa programs for temporary employment in the United States. Based on official data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of State, H-1B and L-1 visa issuance rapidly increased in the late 1990s, followed by a marked slowdown after 2001. This points to the highly cyclical nature of both visa programs. Indian nationals and immigrants working in computer-related occupations dominate the H1-B and L-1 population in the United States, but these two groups are also found to be the most cyclical segment, with very large declines in inflows after 2001. The total population of H-1B visaholders in 2003 is estimated to range between 387,000 and 746,000, of which 160,000 to 306,000 were Indian nationals. As all data on H-1B/L-1 visaholders are gross numbers and gross jobs data for comparable categories are absent, the extent of the impact of these visa programs on the US labor market cannot be gauged precisely. A broad range of US industries and educational institutions are found to be employing H-1B recipients, with the IT industry being the dominant sector. Evidence of aggressive wage-cost cutting, including paying H-1B recipients only the legally mandated 95 percent of the prevailing US wage, is found among some H-1B employers, although no systematic abuse of the system is present.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP05-15.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp05-15

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Related research

Keywords: Outsourcing; offshoring; high-skilled labor; immigration; H1B/L-1 visas;

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References

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  1. Catherine L. Mann & Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, 2006. "Accelerating the Globalization of America: The Role for Information Technology," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 3900.
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Cited by:
  1. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2008. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and US Ethnic Invention," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-005, Harvard Business School.
  2. Ashish Arora & Lee G. Branstetter & Matej Drev, 2011. "Going Soft: How the Rise of Software Based Innovation Led to the Decline of Japan's IT Industry and the Resurgence of Silicon Valley," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd11-199, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  3. Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, 2007. "Offshoring, Outsourcing, and Production Relocation—Labor-Market Effects in the OECD Countries and Developing Asia," Working Paper Series WP07-2, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  4. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln & Prachi Mishra, 2011. "The Dynamics of Firm Lobbying," NBER Working Papers 17577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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