Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Data: USCIS; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The Biden-era approach to visas used by skilled foreign workers is injecting more certainty into the hiring process for large tech employers after four tumultuous Trump administration years.

Driving the news: Biden's first year saw a record low in the denial rate of high-skilled foreign worker visa petitions, according to an analysis of government data by the National Foundation for American Policy shared exclusively with Axios.

  • That number had leaped under Trump.

Why it matters: The demand for technical jobs has spiked during the pandemic, while a tight overall national job market continues to face pandemic-related stress.

Catch up quick: The H-1B program allows foreign workers to fill specialty occupations and has become the most practical way for highly educated foreign citizens to be employed long-term in the U.S.

  • Tech leaders have long urged expanding the program to help them draw more talent from overseas, while critics have argued that companies use it to hold a lid on wages.

By the numbers: The denial rate for new H-1B employment petitions dropped to 4% during fiscal year 2021, the lowest known level, according to the NFAP analysis.

  • During the Trump administration, the denial rate soared to 24% in fiscal year 2018 and remained high at 21% in fiscal year 2019, and 13% in fiscal year 2020.
  • The Trump administration imposed restrictions such as narrowing who could qualify for the visas and re-adjudicating previously approved visas, but court challenges forced changes to these practices.

How it works: There's an annual limit of 85,000 H-1B visas, but demand overwhelms supply. Employers filed more than 300,000 registrations for H-1B selection for fiscal year 2022, NFAP said.

  • So the U.S. first runs a lottery to winnow the field, then reviews qualifications for the smaller pool. The denial rate measures rejections at this stage.

The intrigue: Amazon had the most approved H-1B petitions for initial employment in fiscal year 2021, according the NFAP analysis.

  • Google, IBM and Microsoft were also among the companies with the most new petitions approved.
  • “We appreciate the administration’s efforts to make the H-1B approval process work more smoothly for employees, their families, and businesses to help U.S. economic growth," José Castañeda, a Google spokesperson, told Axios. "In addition to hiring American workers, American businesses need high-skilled immigrants even more now to help fill the current labor shortage as the United States recovers from the pandemic."
  • "It's not surprising that companies looking to grow and innovate in the United States are going to be hiring a relatively large number of foreign nationals as engineers, because they need people to continue to grow," Stuart Anderson, executive director of NFAP, told Axios.

Between the lines: The Biden administration policies largely returned to the pre-Trump status quo.

  • The Trump administration's efforts to limit immigration included a variety of moves to limit and toughen the H-1B application and renewal process that made it hard for companies to make recruiting plans.
  • Visa holders who'd been previously approved and renewed were seeing their extension requests rejected even though no circumstances had changed.

What they're saying: "It's a good sign for business, to have more certainty and it's a good sign for individuals, that they have a better chance of being able to stay in the United States and make their careers," Anderson said.

  • "Our members feel a sense of normality has returned to the immigration system," said Andy Halataei, executive vice president of government affairs for tech trade group ITI, told Axios. "There’s clear guidance on how applications will be treated and processed, and it doesn't look like they’re using the regulatory system to achieve a policy agenda.”

The other side: Daniel Costa, director of immigration at the Economic Policy Institute, noted that despite increased scrutiny during the Trump administration, the H-1B cap was still met every year.

  • Costa said the visa program is important, but "it is severely lacking in terms of good wage rules and oversight by the Labor Department."

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 14, 2022 - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Tech giants play the blame game

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

With regulators around the world looking at reining in Big Tech, the companies in the crosshairs are increasingly eager to point out their rivals' sins.

Why it matters: Investigations in the U.S. and around the world are targeting Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. To make their case, regulators need to show the companies are squelching competition — a task the tech companies may be aiding with their infighting.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks has dropped plans to require that U.S. workers get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the company announced Tuesday in a memo to employees.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

3 hours ago - World

Netanyahu plea talks enter crunch time

Netanyahu (right) meets with his lawyer ahead of a court hearing last February. Photo: Reuven Casto/Pool/AFP via Getty

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, is negotiating a possible plea deal over the corruption charges against him, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit appears to be toughening his terms.

Why it matters: Mandelblit leaves office on Jan. 31. Negotiations could continue beyond that point, but the next attorney general may be less interested in quickly reaching a deal.