Main image of article H-1B Visa Program: Top U.S. States for Applications

Have you ever wondered which states feature the heaviest H-1B visa use (by companies within their borders)? It may not shock you to find California, Texas, and New Jersey are the heaviest users.

To figure out the states with the heaviest H-1B use, we parsed this huge U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) dataset. One way to do this is by top five zip codes; Texas took the top two spots, followed closely by Mountain View, California, then Rockville, MD, then Chicago in fifth.

College Station and Richardson, Texas, make up half of Texas’s H-1B applications; those two cities landed roughly 30,000 applicants of the total 63,000 in Texas. In California, companies relying on the visa tend to be more spread out; Mountain View lead the way with just over 9,000 applicants (while Santa Clara added another 5,000), but those were just a fraction of the overall 76,000 applications in the state between October 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. (Many of these applications are for staffing and contracting firms that then send H-1B workers to tech companies; for a breakdown of enterprise firms such as IBM subcontracting their H-1B workers, check out this breakdown from the same dataset.)

When you break down H-1B applications purely by state (as opposed to zip code), things change a little bit; for example, California leads, followed by Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Illinois. The chart below shows which states are using H-1B most – and least. All states are ranked; just click through the little button at the top to cycle through the full listing.

California isn't the only state with a geographically wide spread of H-1B visa applications. Many other states have a similar pattern of usage: For example, Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington, and Virginia all rank within the top ten states using H-1B... but none have metropolitan areas in that top-ten list of zip codes, suggesting that the companies applying for H-1B workers aren't very concentrated.

On the lower side of this list, it’s interesting that Guam has more H-1B visa applications (180) than South Dakota (129), Wyoming (114), Alaska (77), or Montana (61). (A special shoutout to Palau with its one unique applicant, too.)

We also know the H-1B is used most often for ‘Software Engineer’ and ‘Software Developer’ roles. If we were to create a Venn diagram of who is most at-risk of having their career or industry disrupted by H-1B visa recipients, it’s software developers and engineers in Silicon Valley.