These US companies employ the most H-1B visa holders

One of the most sought-after visa programs in the U.S., the H-1B, could see some significant changes in 2019, according to President Trump, including a potential path to citizenship for recipients of the non-immigrant visa.

The H-1B visa program allows U.S. employers to hire graduate-level workers in specialty occupations, like IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, science and medicine. Any job that requires workers to have at least a bachelor’s degree falls under the H-1B for specialty occupations.

Each year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allots about 85,000 of the H-1B visas -- 65,000 for applicants with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and 20,000 for those with a master’s degree or higher.

As of April 2017, when Trump signed an executive order  -- “Buy American and Hire American” -- it’s become more difficult for U.S. companies to hire people via H-1B. It directs the Department of Homeland Security to only grant the visas to the “most-skilled or highest-paid beneficiaries.”

Here’s a look at the American companies (and industries) that benefited the most from the program in 2017.

Cognizant: The IT services business had a whopping 3,194 H-1B initial petitions approved in 2017, the most of any U.S. company by almost 600.

Amazon: In 2017, the e-commerce behemoth hired 2,515 employees via the H-1B visa program, according to data compiled by the National Foundation for American Policy. That was about a 78 percent increase from 2016, or 1,099 more employees.

Microsoft: Microsoft hired 1,479 workers through H-1B in 2017, the second most of U.S. companies -- an increase in 334 employees from the year prior, or close to 29 percent.

IBM: In 2017, IBM employed about 1,231 workers through the H-1B visa program.

Intel: The California-based company employed 1,230 workers through H-1B in 2017, 200 more workers -- or a 19 percent increase -- compared to 2016.

Google: The search engine giant had 1,213 H-1B initial petitions approved for fiscal year 2017, a 31 percent increase of about 289 from 2016.