Bridgeport Employers Lead State in Foreign Worker Visas

Jul 18, 2012

Employers in cities across the country are requesting visas for high skilled foreign workers. As WNPRs Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, the demand has increased in the last decade according to the Brookings Institution.

This is the first time a report has looked at the local demand for foreign workers who receive H1-B visas to legally work in the U.S.

Senior Research Analyst at the Brookings Institution, Jill Wilson says the visa is widely requested by employers across the U.S not just those in the Silicon valley or NYC.

More than sixty percent of the jobs are in the STEM field or jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.

The report analyzed 106 metro areas including Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven.

In the last decade, Wilson says Hartford employers requested more than 1700 while New Haven had 955 visa requests. She says Yale University puts in many of the Elm City requests.

Bridgeport led the state with more than 2300 visa requests for H1b-workers.

"So Bridgeport and Hartford are different from New Haven because requests are coming from private industry. You have some big firms like Larsen and Toubro Infotech, Cognizant, Wipro, and Infosys. They're requesting computer occupations which make up much of their demand. But there are also requests for financial specialists and healthcare occupations."

Employers who are granted H1-B visas to hire foreigners pay anywhere from $1400 to $4000 to the federal government. Those fees are then cycled back into communities for workforce training in the STEM fields. Wilson says the report found that areas that have a lot of H1B requests don't always get the funding to better train the local workforce.

"This is a competitive grant process so local areas have to know about it first of all. And one hope from our report is that local areas can use this to see what employers are requesting H1B workers in their area.  And what the occupations are that are in the highest demands so they can target their resources to meet those needs."

Wilson says demand for these visas always outpaces supply. Congress has the power to change the visa cap although she says with the political climate surrounding immigration issues, the number of visas given out aren't likely to increase.

More about the report can be found at www.Brookings.edu/metro/h1b