Outrageous Demand: Over 780,000 Apply for H1B Visas, With Only a 15% Acceptance Rate

Alex Lew, CFA
2 min readMay 2, 2023

The number of H1B visa applications has dramatically increased this year, with applications rising from 480,000 to 780,000 in just one year due to the hyper-growth of technology companies in 2021–22. The acceptance rate for H1B visas is now less than 15%, which is worrying.

Leading Firm and Trump Administration’s Effect

Leading the pack, Indian consulting firm ICC has submitted 400,000 applications on behalf of 96,000 people, which equates to each individual having raised more than four applications. The fall in applications between 2018 and 2019 was mainly due to the Trump administration’s strict scrutiny of company qualifications and professional matching. This led to a significant reduction in ICC’s applications and numerous false negatives.

Demand for High-Skilled Workers and Need for Visa System Reform

Removing the multiple applications, almost 500,000 people have applied for H1B visas this year. The demand for high-skilled workers in the tech industry is apparent, and it is high time that the U.S. visa system is reformed. Either the number of visa quotas should be increased, or the abuse of the visa system should be prevented, such as outsourcing firms obtaining over 50% of H1B visas by paying workers the minimum wage, for example, $80,000, which is entirely unchecked and only exacerbating the problem.

Historical Context of the H1B Visa System

Those who graduated before 2015 will need help understanding what it is like to experience the current situation of 780,000 H1B visa applications competing for 85,000 spots through the lottery-based system. It is akin to the difficulty of finding employment during the financial crisis in the early 2000s or even the mid-90s when only 115,000 H1B visas were issued yearly, which is insurmountable if quotas remain the same as they have done for over two decades.

The current political polarisation over illegal immigrant issues will likely make resolving the visa situation in the short term challenging.


“US H-1B Visa Lottery System Resulted In Abuse, Fraud, Says Federal Agency”, NDTV, 29 Apr 2023, https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/us-h-1b-visa-lottery-system-resulted-in-abuse-fraud-says-federal-agency-3989714

“H-1B fraud: Here’s how consultancies scam applicants without real job offers”, mint, 1 May 2023, https://www.livemint.com/news/world/h1b-fraud-heres-how-consultancies-scam-applicants-without-real-job-offers-11682911688723.html

“Tech companies accused of gaming the H-1B lottery system”, CBS News, 28 Apr 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/tech-companies-accused-of-gaming-the-h-1b-lottery-system/