H-1B workers switching jobs at record rate: US think-tank report

Washington, DC: H-1B visa holders are increasingly switching jobs in the United States, with a record number doing so in 2022. These skilled workers are leaving their initial H1B employers more than ever. There are multiple factors, including a policy change and a growing pool of H-1B workers, behind this trend.

A study conducted by David J Bier, Director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, found that H-1B workers changed jobs over 1 million times (1,090,890) between 2005 and 2023. The Cato Institute is a Washington DC-based think tank.

The trend of job-changing is on the rise, with the number of switches growing from about 24,000 in 2005 to a record 130,576 in 2022, a more than fivefold increase.

There was a slight decline in 2023 with 117,153 worker switches.

“H1B job shifting is more common than H1B workers starting H1B employment for the first time. In 2023, about 61% of all H1B workers starting with a new employer were existing H1B workers hired away from other employers in the United States. This means that US employers are more likely to hire an H1B worker already in the United States in H1B status as they are to hire a new H1B worker not already with H1B status,” according to David J Bier.

Bier attributed the rise in H-1B worker job changes to several factors.

A tighter labor market in general has led to more worker mobility across industries.

Additionally, the number of H-1B workers in the US has grown, creating a larger pool of talent for companies to recruit from.

A policy change in 2017 that extended a grace period to 60 days for H-1B workers to find a new job after losing their current one is also seen as a contributing factor.

Finally, a surge in green card applications in 2021 may also have played a role.

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