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The internet has driven the entire growth of the U.S. H-1B program

Computers are the future.

Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

The importance of H-1B visas to tech companies operating in the U.S. can’t be overstated. Last year, specialty work visas were issued to 180,000 foreigners with advanced knowledge in their fields.

Some 67 percent of approved petitions for H-1B visas were in computer-related fields in 2015, the latest year for job-specific data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. That’s up from 39 percent in 2003, the first year the USCIS issued its H-1B characteristics report. Indeed, the growth of the entire H-1B program comes thanks to the internet and the growth of computer-related jobs.

While petition approvals for work visas in other major specialty fields like engineering, medicine and education — as well as less popular fields like theology and law — have dropped in the past 12 years, approvals for computer-related positions have grown 120 percent. In that time, overall approvals increased just 27 percent.

Technology companies’ reliance on H-1B visas means proposed tightening of H-1B visa requirements could disproportionately affect the industry.

This article originally appeared on

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