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
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.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


This paper was revised on June 18, 2015

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20668

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Kerr, Kerr, and Lincoln w19658 Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of U.S. Firms
Kerr, Kerr, and Lincoln w20069 Firms and the Economics of Skilled Immigration
Kerr and Lincoln w15768 The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and US Ethnic Invention
Stiglitz w20670 Unemployment and Innovation
Anderson w16371 The Demand for Ethanol as a Gasoline Substitute
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us