Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Laura Grant

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

2022 Sainani Dharkann


In the United States’ labor market for high-skilled workers, firm demand exceeds native workers’ supply. Beginning in 1990 on an annual basis, the U.S grants foreign high-skilled workers temporary permission to work in the U.S. under the H1-B visa program. In a policy context, the program remains contentious; proponents of restricting the number of visas that can be granted per year claim that foreign high-skilled workers crowd out native workers, while others explain that these workers are especially conducive to innovation. This paper examines the impact of restricting the supply of foreign high-skilled workers on innovation outcomes in the United States. It uses the H1-B lottery process to construct explanatory variables that capture restriction. It uses patents granted as a proxy for innovation. I conduct my analysis at a four-digit zip code, yearly level across 2009 and 2010. I find that using a fixed-effects regression model, as the excess demand for visas decreases, the number of patents filed for in a zip code increases. I find that a zip code’s mean household income and higher-education attainment significantly and positively impact the relationship between high-skilled visa restriction and innovation both as covariates in a pooled OLS regression model and via heterogeneity analysis. I recommend that future research explores alternative methods to quantifying visa restriction outside of the 2004 supply shock and considers how the sunk costs of training and investing in H1-B workers might result in sample selection bias if firms apply for H1-Bs for a smaller sample within the larger H1-B eligible population.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.