The Labor Market Pathways of H-1B Workers

Migration research cluster

Event Date

2203 SS&H (Andrews Conference Room) | UC Davis

Under the United States’ H-1B program, the work visas of skilled migrants are often sponsored by IT consulting companies – or staffing firms – that function as third-party brokers to place migrant workers in temporary technology jobs. Among H-1B workers, there is little research about how the quality of such consulting jobs compares to jobs that offer traditional, direct-hire employment. This paper brings original survey data to make this comparison, and it explores how early-career employment with staffing firms affects professional outcomes, as measured by log wage, an index of precarious work, and by the “stickiness” of staffing firm jobs over time. Finally, the paper explores some of the factors that increase migrants’ likelihood to enter the U.S. labor market with a staffing firm job.

​​savinarRobin Savinar
Ph.D. Student, Department of Sociology, UC Davis


Savinar's dissertation will describe the occupational experiences of high-skilled migrant workers in the United States.


chenComments from Jingjing Chen
PhD Candidate, Sociology, UC Davis

This paper used original data to compare the quality of consulting firms to traditional direct-hire employment on professional outcomes, and concluded that careers trajectories starting with a consulting firms are more limiting in the short term with respect to income and legal statuses, and are more precarious in nature. The research situated itself nicely with the large literature of precarious work, institutional stratification and racialization of migrant workers, with a focus of skilled information technology workers with H-1B visas.

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hlapinComments from Brian W. Halpin 
PhD, Sociology, UC Davis

In this promising paper, Savinar looks at a comparison between H-1B workers experiences at consulting firms or direct hire firms. Savinar asks: how the quality of consulting jobs compares to direct hire positions and if being hired by a consulting firm has a long-term impact on these workers career trajectory. To answer these questions Savinar uses a newly constructed data set – from a survey they constructed and administered. Savinar compares consultant and direct hire firms across 3 dimensions: log wage, precarious work index, and the “stickiness” of staffing positions.

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