The Effects of High-Skilled Immigration Policy on Firms: Evidence from H-1B Visa Lotteries

Kirk Doran, Alexander Gelber, Adam Isen

NBER Working Paper No. 20668
Issued in November 2014, Revised in June 2015
NBER Program(s):   LS   PE   PR

We study the effect of a firm winning an additional H-1B visa on the firm’s outcomes, by comparing winning and losing firms in the Fiscal Year 2006 and 2007 H-1B visa lotteries. We match administrative data on the participants in these lotteries to the universe of approved U.S. patents, and to IRS data on the universe of U.S. firms. Winning additional H-1B visas has insignificant effects on firms’ patenting and use of the research and experimentation tax credit, with confidence intervals that generally rule out more than modest effects. Additional H-1Bs cause at most a moderate increase in firms’ overall employment, and these H-1Bs substantially crowd out firms’ employment of other workers. There is some evidence that additional H-1Bs lead to lower average employee earnings and higher firm profits.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20668

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