Help Wanted: MO Companies Requesting Visas For Highly-Skilled Workers

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Cerner Corp. and Washington University requested the most visas for highly skilled workers, according to a report for the Brookings Institute.

The visas – H-1B – allow companies to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. To apply for a visa an individual must be sponsored by an employer, who must pay between $1,500 and $4,300. The visa fees are used to address skills shortages in the U.S. Over the last decade, the federal government has distributed about $1 billion to programs to train U.S. workers.

The visas are largely granted in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines (STEM). Nearly 60 percent of all visas are granted in STEM fields. The visas are granted mostly in large metro areas with limited technical training grants.

“Metropolitan areas with a high demand for H-1B workers are only receiving $3.09 on average per working age person 16 years or older of the technical skills training grants compared to $15.26 for metros that have a lower demand for H-1Bs from 2001-2011,” the report said.

The federal government limits the amount of H-1B visas available to 65,000. Demand greatly exceeds that number. This year the visas were granted in 10 weeks.

St. Louis companies requested nearly 2,300 visas, the 24th most in the country, on par with its metro rank of 19. However, its applications per 1,000 workers and total dollars received from grants was much lower, 61st and 64th respectively.

The top requests from St. Louis employers came from Washington University, Monsanto, St. Louis University, Tata Consulting Services Ltd. and Wipro Ltd.

Of the 2,300 visa requests, nearly 1,300 were in computer occupations. Life scientists, health diagnosing, post-secondary teachers and engineers were also in demand.

Kansas City companies requested only about 1,500 specialized visas, 36th most in the country, which is lower than its metro rank. Like St. Louis, its applications per 1,000 workers was lower than the national average, but unlike St. Louis, Kansas City received a lot of money in H-1B grants. St. Louis received $1 million in grants and Kansas City received nearly $9 million.

The top requests from Kansas City employers came from Cerner, the University of Kansas Medical Center, Sprint Nextel, Black and Veatch and UST Global Inc.

Kansas City’s top visa occupations where similar to St. Louis’s. About 50 percent of all visas requested -878 out of 1,527- were for computer occupation. Health diagnosing and teachers, life scientists, engineers and financial specialists were also in demand.

For more information check out the Brookings Institute Report

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