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H-1B Visa Holder Study

H-1B Visa Holders Found Not Harmful to U.S. Unemployment Rates

The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) has just released a study saying, “H-1B visa holders do not adversely affect U.S. workers.” Although a widespread belief that their presence in the U.S. directly impacts the country’s unemployment rate, the NFAP’s research in this study has concluded that this is not rooted in reality. A Research Fellow at the NFAP and Professor of Economics at the University of North Florida, Madeline Zavodny, has said, “The evidence points to the presence of H-1B visa holders as being associated with lower unemployment rates and faster earnings growth among college graduates, including recent college graduates. Further, the results suggest that, if anything, being in a field with more H-1B visa holders makes it more likely that U.S.-born young college graduates work in a job closely related to their college major.


The study and its findings come when the U.S. considers placing additional restrictions on visa holders. Zavondy’s research is based on data from approved petitions to employ H-1B visa holders between 2005 to 2018, alongside a group of college graduated within 22 occupations. Her research concludes the effects of each group and how they relate to unemployment rates and earnings growth rates in each of the 22 professions. The NFAP has studied and analyzed this data and has concluded the below findings:


  • An increase in workers with an H-1B visa within an occupation, on average, reduces the unemployment rate in that occupation. The results indicate that a one percentage point increase in the share of workers with an H-1B visa in an occupation reduces the unemployment rate by about 0.2 percentage points. The findings suggest the presence of H-1B visa holders boosts employment among other workers in a profession. The results provide no evidence that the H-1B program harms labor market opportunities for U.S. workers.


  • The results suggest that more H-1B visa holders lead to faster earnings growth for U.S. workers. The magnitude of the estimates indicates that a one percentage point increase in the share of workers with an H-1B visa in an occupation boosts the earnings growth rate in that occupation by about 0.1 to 0.26 percentage points. Therefore, a larger share of H-1B visa holders may push wages and wage growth for U.S. workers. While critics often allege that H-1B visas reduce wages or suppress wage growth, this finding of the opposite is consistent with research showing that H-1B visa holders earn at least as much as similar U.S. workers, if not more.


  • The results indicate that H-1B visa holders do not adversely affect U.S.-born college graduates early in their careers. A more approved total or initial H-1B petitions, on average, reduces the unemployment rate within a significant occupation for recent graduates. The results provide no evidence that recent college graduates have worse labor market outcomes if there are more H-1B visa holders in jobs closely related to their college major.


  • The report indicates that the H-1B visa holder does not adversely impact the U.S. unemployment rates or U.S. workers. The pool of H-1B visa holders is proportionately small compared to the group of college graduates entering the workforce. Although the H-1B program is small in scale, the visa holders are essential to the U.S. economy and the organizations that rely on them to fill gaps in their workforce.


Experts at Georgetown University estimate that over 200,000 nursing positions will go unfulfilled at healthcare facilities across the U.S. this year. Hospitals and acute care facilities have heavily relied on foreign-educated nurses and allied professionals to overcome this insufficiency. Some even estimate that foreign-educated nurses make up just under 20 percent of all nurses in the U.S.


MedPro International believes that foreign-educated healthcare workers, including H-1B visa holders, are essential in balancing the U.S. healthcare system deficit. The U.S. healthcare climate has suffered from a rising nursing shortage for decades. In the wake of the Coronavirus and the subsequent visa restrictions, the country will continue to grapple with the increased need for healthcare workers. Based on the research and data concluded by the NFAP, it’s clear that now, more than ever, the U.S. needs the support of foreign-educated healthcare workers and all H-1B visa holders to keep our communities whole.