The story of American business has been about shipping the country’s manufacturing jobs overseas. However, there is another part of the story. Every year, American companies hire thousands of highly skilled foreign workers.
Since 1990, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued visas for these workers through the H-1B program. These visas permit 85,000 workers — 20,000 of whom are required to have graduated with an advanced degree from an American institution — to work in the United States for three years, with an optional renewal for another three years.
Recently, the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan public policy organization, released a report on the demand for highly skilled immigrants in the United States. These requests are measured by the number of Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) that companies file with the Department of Labor. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the report to compile a list of the top 10 public American companies requesting the most H-1B visas.
The number of applications has exceeded the number of visas since the program began, except from 2001 to 2003 when the cap was raised to 195,000. Academic and research institutions are not subject to this cap and typically account for 10% of the LCAs submitted.
Because for-profit positions are the only ones subject to the cap, the rate at which the cap is reached is a good indication of the overall strength of the economy. If the recent trend is at all an indicator, the American economy appears to be improving. According to Neil Ruiz, one of three authors of the study, the annual H-1B visa cap was filled in 10 weeks this year, as opposed to 10 months last year.
While 24/7 Wall St. examined only public American companies, it is interesting to note that in a comprehensive list of the top 25 companies, including private and foreign companies requesting visas, 50% are foreign. And four of the top 10 companies on that list are Indian. An average of 70,000 employers filed applications in 2010 and 2011.
India has by far the most recipients of H-1B visas, with 58% of all acceptances. China and Canada follow with 8.8% and 3.5%, respectively. Two thirds of the LCAs are for positions in science, technology, engineering and math, while only 5.4% of jobs in America are in these fields, based on 2010 data.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed LCAs in 2011 by American companies, based on the Brookings Institution report. From their list, we excluded foreign and private companies to identify the top 10 public American companies that apply to hire the most foreigners on H-1B visas. We also reviewed additional company and visa figures from Myvisajobs.com, which compiles U.S. Department of Labor data.
These are the 10 companies that are hiring in the world’s geniuses.
10) JPMorgan Chase & Co.
> H1-B requests: 645
> No. employees: 260,000
> Revenue: $90 billion
> Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
> Industry: Banking, financial services
Close behind its competitor Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) ranks 10th for the number of visa requests by a public American company, with 645 applications. Similar to Goldman, many of these requests were for software and application development, ahead of strictly banking and financial positions. The average salary for JPMorgan’s H-1B visa applicants was over $107,000.
9) Goldman Sachs & Co.
> H1-B requests: 656
> No. employees: 32,400
> Revenue: $29 billion
> Headquarters: New York, N.Y.
> Industry: Banking, financial services
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) is the first bank to crack the top 10 list of visa requesters among public American companies. Goldman also tops the list for the most requests in the New York metro area — this area generated a total of 52,291 requests, accounting for almost 16% of the national demand for H-1B visas. Financial specialists are the second-highest profession requesting applications in the New York metro area, with 6,206 requests. Many of the requests for H-1B visas at Goldman were for software development and programming roles. The average salary for Goldman’s 2011 H-1B visa applicants was over $118,000.
8) CVS RX Services
> H1-B requests: 688
> No. employees: 202,000
> Revenue: $99 billion
> Headquarters: Woonsocket, R.I.
> Industry: Retail pharmacy
The second-largest pharmacy chain in the United States comes in eighth for number of visas requested. While the only pharmacy chain in the top 10 list of public American companies requesting visas, CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS) is certainly not the only company requesting visas for pharmacy workers. Rite-Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD), Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG), Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) have all requested workers in the pharmacy profession. Pharmacists are also among the highest-paid H-1B visa workers, making on average almost $114,000.
7) Google Inc.
> H1-B requests: 1,009
> No. employees: 33,000
> Revenue: $38 billion
> Headquarters: Menlo Park, Calif.
> Industry: Internet, computer software
With such reliance on the skills of foreign workers, it is no wonder that Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) also has been a serious supporter of H-1B visa reform, aiming to increase the number of visas available. This is one of the Internet giant’s major lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. The majority of H-1B visa requests were for positions at Google’s headquarters in Menlo Park. The average salary for positions for which the company is requesting H-1B visas is $124,616.
6) Qualcomm Inc.
> H1-B requests: 1,017
> No. employees: 17,500
> Revenue: $15 billion
> Headquarters: San Diego, Calif.
> Industry: Telecommunications
The vast majority of the requests that Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) made for H-1B visas were for jobs in San Diego, with 983 applications. This represents almost 22% of all the visa requests in the metro area. Other large employers of H-1B visa workers there include the University of California-San Diego and Larsen & Toubro, the Indian conglomerate. Qualcomm remains an R&D powerhouse: it ranked 26th for the number of patents filed in the United States in 2011 at 926.
5) Oracle Corp.
> H-1B requests: 1,413
> No. employees: 115,166
> Revenue: $37 billion
> Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.
> Industry: Computing
Most of Oracle’s Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) requests for foreign workers on H-1B visas are at the corporate headquarters in the San Jose metro area, home of Silicon Valley. Between 2001 and 2011, Oracle filed 10,947 requests for H-1B visas for various software engineering roles. The average salary for these positions was $103,196.
> H-1B requests: 1,468
> No. employees: 433,362
> Revenue: $106.9 billion
> Headquarters: Armonk, N.Y.
> Industry: Computing, consulting
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) ranks fourth in H-1B visa applications, with 6,180. It is the second of two consulting firms among the top 10 public American companies requesting H-1B foreign workers. Between 2001 and 2011, the second largest American employer filed almost 19,000 requests for H-1B visas. Most of these jobs were for consultants and programmers. And while Big Blue is headquartered in New York, many of these jobs were spread throughout the United States.
3) Intel Corp.
> H-1B requests: 1,510
> No. employees: 100,100
> Revenue: $54.0 billion
> Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.
> Industry: Semiconductors
Between 2001 and 2011, Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) made over 10,000 requests for H-1B visas. The San Jose metro area, home of Intel and Silicon Valley, ranks first in the country for the intensity of H-1B applications, with 17.1 applications per 1,000 workers, and fourth in sheer number of applications for a metro area with 14,926. More than 80% of these jobs are in computing and engineering, areas in which Intel does most of its hiring. Intel also happens to rank 16th for the number of patents awarded in the U.S. in 2011, with 1,244 patents.
2) Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp.
> H-1B requests: 2,017
> No. employees: 140,500
> Revenue: $6.1 billion
> Headquarters: Teaneck, N.J.
> Industry: IT, business consulting
Founded by Sri Lankan-American Kumar Mahadeva, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: CTSH) is one of only two public American consulting companies in the top 10. However, in a comprehensive list of all companies, regardless of ownership status and nationality, Cognizant is one of eight consulting companies among the top 10 visa requesters. Cognizant has been a perennial top requester, having made 7,522 applications since 2001. The company’s headquarters in Teaneck made the most requests, followed by offices in Connecticut, Virginia and Arizona.
1) Microsoft Corp.
> H-1B requests: 4,109
> No. employees: 90,000
> Revenue: $73.7 billion
> Headquarters: Redmond, Wash.
> Industry: Computing
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) comes in first with 4,109 H-1B visa requests, more than double the next public American company on the list. It makes almost 30% more requests than India’s Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., which ranks second on a list that includes both foreign and private firms. Microsoft accounts for 1.26% of all requests made in the United States. In the Seattle metro area, home of Microsoft, computer occupations comprised 6,519 of the 9,633 total H-1B applications. This area ranked ninth in the country for the number of visa requests, with 5.6 requests per 1,000 workers.
Michael B. Sauter and Lisa Uible