Is there a significant raise in demand for EB1 green card visa. What does the data say?

In the last 2 years or so, people in the online immigrant communities have been complaining about significant raise in Eb1 demand. Specifically, the outcry has been about abuse of the Eb1C visa, the visa class which allows employers to apply for green card for people who are “international managers”. However, most of the reports have been anecdotal. It has certainly become common to spot people who got greened through the Eb1c category. The frequent complaint has been that, Eb1c demand has gone through the roof in recent years and hence affects the people waiting in line for other employment based green card categories. Hence, I decided to look around to see if the increase in Eb1C demand can be established through data.

First step is to obtain the data itself. While USCIS releases data around various visa petition types, the actual useful information comes from DHS. DHS releases data of various immigration categories, legal permanent residency status being one. After poking around a bit the “table 7d” of the yearly stats file contains the data that we need (employment based green cards). Next questions is, how far to go back to try to see a trend emerging. I decided to go back to 2008, because it was one of the worst year for the economy in recent history. Many industries had to reset because of the recession and hence I chose that as a starting point for the analysis.

Every year, as H1b becomes popular, that is reflected in the higher volume of petitions applied towards the yearly cap. Along similar lines, I would expect the overall EB1 demand to creep higher if there is hot demand. While both the primary beneficiary and their dependents are counted towards the annual allocation of green card, I decided to look only at the primary beneficiaries to weed out any discrepancy that may arise out of varying family sizes through the years. Here is the graph of overall Eb1 (all categories) demand,

Eb1 demand

The above graph doesn’t show any significant increases in Eb1 visas overall. Over the last year or so it seems to be nearly flat. Interestingly, while the economy was still reeling from the great recession, 2009 and 2010 have had good years in terms of Eb1 visas. There has been a blip in 2011 and subsequently the demand has caught up and more or less stays flat around the 17000 mark. Not sufficient to show any significant upward trend. Unfortunately, that seems to go against the conventional wisdom of raising demand.

With overall Eb1 not showing any pattern, I decided to look just at Eb1C. Eb1 visa has internally has 3 sub-categories, Eb1A, Eb1B and then Eb1C which was mentioned earlier. So, decrease in demand for 1 category could mask the growth in another. So, I decided to separate them out and look only at Eb1C. Again looking at the primaries only, as dependents demand is directly dependent on the primary’s growth.

Eb1C demand

This graph more or less mirrors the first one. However, 2010 seems to have had a drop in demand for Eb1C, whereas the overall Eb1 went up higher. Raw numbers clearly indicate that Eb1C is the biggest component of Eb1 category. 2011 again seems to be an anomaly. Eb1c drop is the reason why EB1 had a drop in 2011 too. The graph does show some sequential higher numbers in the last 3 years. But those seem to be marginal increases and not the spikes I am looking for.

Overall, there seems to be a disconnect between perception and data. While some want USCIS to look into the alarming raise in Eb1C visas, there seems to be no such thing and hence USCIS may never act. Remember, It’s already an overloaded agency. So, what is causing that perception? May be the dependents of Eb1 are brought in at higher numbers. However, that still doesn’t indicate that Eb1c is being abused widespread. Even if large families are brought in by the primaries nothing can be done about that, unless not counting them towards the cap. And dependents analysis may be a subject for another post. Furthermore, the concerns raised is specifically about India’s Eb1c numbers. I looked around, but couldn’t find any country or company specific data released by DHS. But on a second thought, if Eb1c demand from one country is growing, then the demand from other countries should drop in tandem to keep the overall numbers in balance. In theory that’s possible, but there seems to be no reason to believe that demand from other counties is cooling off.

So, overall data doesn’t seem to support recent demand “going through the roof”. Visa numbers seems to be inline with historical numbers over the last few years. If we get hold of country/company specific numbers may be things will change.

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