H-1B Visa Most Used for ‘Software Engineer,’ ‘Software Developer’ Roles

A recent H-1B visa data-dump from the U.S. Department of Labor shows job titles such as “software developer” and “software engineer” are the most widely used for H-1B candidates.

We analyzed the top job titles used by tech companies when securing H-1B visas for overseas talent. You might assume that, with the government’s crackdown on the H-1B program, tech companies would have to submit H-1B requests with specific job titles in mind. Nope.

Doing some cross-referencing on the cities and states with the highest concentration of H-1B visas, we can deduce that internal job titles are not always used within H-1B applications. For example: levels.fyi shows Google’s base software engineer job titles include “L3,” “SWE II”, and ‘Software Engineer 2’ – but such titles doesn’t show up in the dataset’s list of job titles. (Mountain View, where Google is headquartered, was the third most popular city for the H-1B visa program.)

Google appears to be using the visa program heavily, sourcing “software engineers” or “software developers.” Tech companies are also relying on consulting firms to bring in overseas tech professionals; in such cases, the use of generic titles are understandable, as the consultancy may not know exactly how a company designates its engineers, developers, and designers.

Within the top ten job titles used in H-1B applications, most are generic; only “Java Developer” suggests a bespoke skillset for placement. The opacity is understandable, but likely worrisome for those domestic tech professionals who are concerned their jobs are at risk.

Aside from staffing uncertainty, it’s entirely possible tech companies and sourcing firms are using job title opacity to save a few bucks. In a look at the salaries associated with the visa (from the same dataset), we found the average H-1B salary is $89,779. The average salary for tech pros, according to the Dice Salary Survey, is $93,244. Digging a bit further, the Dice Salary Survey shows the average income for software engineers is $110,989. Opacity allows companies to potentially adjust (and suppress) how much they need to pay for talent.

Within this dataset, it’s also hard to discern whether a “software engineer” or “software developer” sourced via the H-1B program actually has the specialized knowledge or skillset the visa is meant for. And when we compare the job titles to earnings, it appears companies really are simply using the visa program to save a bit of money on contracted tech professionals.

47 Responses to “H-1B Visa Most Used for ‘Software Engineer,’ ‘Software Developer’ Roles”

  1. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, rude, or racist. But it seems to me that a large group of people have found a back-door, or at least a side-door, to slip into the US as an H1B VISA, and merely giving a stated lip-service to the qualifications that people already here (aka naturalized American Citizens) have to prove under a microscope at white-board sessions, after doing homework assignments, passing personality tests, and answering esoteric unrelated riddles to show the job should go to them. After-all, there are some jobs that Americans simply won’t do, like Computer Programmer, Software Engineer, and Software Developer. And the American citizen who has spent 25 years just on schools alone is always passed-over for every job imaginable. Trained to work on the best of the tech in America, he has to live by sleeping in storefront doorways and begging loose change on street corners becuase a college-educated software engineer is too over-qualified to even be considered for a job as trash collector, gas station attendant, or Walmart stocking clerk, and too expensive to be paid the starting salary in his chosen software field, nevermind that he is obligated to pay utility bills, put his own children through college, pay-back his own student loans, and be required to pay for unaffordable affordable health insurace that isn’t useful for paying for anything because of the thousands of dollars of annual deductibility before anything is covered. Then the American Citizen Computer Science graduate told he should “become a CEO and start his own corporation and become an entrepreneur….” Never mind the tax-forms got changed to disallow most of the deductions an entrepreneur might make in his carry-forwards and carry-backs in favor of a form the size of a postcard (printed on a full sheet of paper, I guess to save on precious ink). Let’s have some MORE of the republican-favored, top 1%-faviored, trickle-down economics that they’ve espoused since 1980. In practice, it seems to me to be more like trickle-away economics.

  2. H1b’s in big companies like Msft, Amazon, FB any many others get commanding pay, north of $350K for ~7 years exp. It’s mainly the contractors from Cognizant, TCS and Wipro like companies from India who underpay and replace our american engineers, they need to be banned.

    • Source?

      While lobbying Congress for more H-1B visas, industry claims H-1B workers are “the best and brightest”. Come payday, however, they’re entry-level workers.

      The wage rules for H-1B and green card sponsorship are broken down into wage Levels I, II, III and IV, with Level III being the median. For software developers, the most common type of foreign worker on H-1B, the green card data show the following percentages of foreign workers at Levels I or II making below-median wages: Amazon 91%; Facebook 91%; and Google 96%. These firms, putatively in the vanguard of advanced technology and certainly in the vanguard in Capitol Hill lobbying regarding H-1B, are paying almost all of their foreign workers – ostensibly, the “best and brightest” – wages below the median for the given region.

      The Government Accountability Office (GAO) put out a report on the H-1B visa that discusses at some length the fact that the vast majority of H-1B workers are hired at the entry-level wage level. In fact, most are at “Level I”, which is officially defined by the Dept. of Labor as those who have a “basic understanding of duties and perform routine tasks requiring limited judgment”. Moreover, the GAO found that a mere 6% of H-1B workers are at “Level IV”, which is officially defined by the Dept. of Labor as those who are “fully competent”.

      This all belies the industry lobbyists’ claims that H-1B workers are hired because they’re experts that can’t be found among the U.S. workforce.

  3. Oracularman

    Absolutely misleading and many big companies have internal and external facing titles. Internal – Software Developer, External – Manager. How many are on L1 visas? These are transfer visas? Please provide honest data and not fake data provided to the writer by the corporations and their HR teams that really don’t work for the employees including the Ombudsman’s office.

  4. G. Lose

    This is supposed to be a systems engineer job but most of these “software engineers” are coding technicians that are actually “artist” that cause you budget over-runs and questionable sw quality in a govt program.

    • This write up missed a more widely used category. “Systems analyst”. Most IT service companies use that for h1b filing. It’s a catch all title for anything and everything.

      • Maha Guru

        If it makes you feel better, many areas in NJ are now worse. Every mall has a Indian restaurant and Indian grocery (), Every other mall has an Indian hair dressing shop, a “egg-less” cake bakery. Now Regal Cinemas has more Indian Bollywood and Tollywood moves than OEnglish movies – they even serve samosas and pakoras to boot! So much for diversity – its all Indian!

  5. Google has single handedly turned Sunnyvale into India in less than 5 years and we r sick of it. There nothing left but Indian food trucks Indian restaurants Indian stores markets people ect…jesus fuckin christ these guys didnt even wear shoes last year now they have a Mercedes that drives its self but still cant drive the car. Hopefully they crack down on this bs and import less and use local talent more

  6. Author: Nate Swanner,

    Why don’t you research your own dice database to provide some details of how many people apply for these common h1b job titles…..as these big companies cry all the time that they can’t find candidate in US ????

  7. In response to the idea that a company is just going to hire whoever is cheapest… I can understand from a business perspective where that comes from and as devs, engineers, etc., it’s kind of our responsibility to communicate who is who in our industry. We really need to consider how we present it to the business side as a skilled trade profession(s) that does have a right way and wrong way of doing it.

    If a small shop just needs a website to display hours, sure, hire whoever – have a high schooler throw together a site on whatever static web-page builder is popular that month. But once you start dealing with personal data, payment information or, getting really high up there in terms of responsibility, designing and programming transportation and medical machines – you really want to hire out cheap labor for that? Just saying, sometimes software error = customers don’t know business’ hours or some sensitive data gets exposed and sometimes software error = people die.

    In regards to the article:
    Where I live in the country there isn’t an apparent problem with over use of H1B visas, but it is a problem that the government doesn’t really know enough to recognize that those blanket terms don’t describe anything. Big companies are taking advantage of that. If we could do what I mentioned previously, solidify the relationship between job title and responsibilities for one, it would help.

  8. The cheap labor, coupled with the security implications that plague these decisions is downright ridiculous.

    I have seen several state government facilities that have these H1B visa workers managing our critical infrastructure. How did they get there? Well, they are deeply embedded in the HR and contracting process now. They use Indian and foreign companies as contractors because of kinship. (MUST BE INVESTIGATED TO WEED THEM OUT, BECAUSE IT’S FRAUDULENT) The problem here is that they want money and don’t care a lick about our infrastructure. The positions they hold include but are not limited to, warning systems, parks and recreation, water supply and environmental controls, communications, and energy and more. I’m worried about our safety!

    Human resources and temporary worker fields have also been hijacked and turned into a quagmire of ineptitude. They have become resume collectors and information phishers. They go out of their way to exclude American workers from American jobs and aggregate the information for future sale.

    Some of these companies are currently under investigation by the US Immigration Service. Because of that fact, they are interviewing Americans again but then canceling the requirement when they find someone, and US Immigration isn’t looking.

    I do think it is time to remove them ALL. We must start from scratch with a VISA program that benefits all of America. It must also take into consideration peoples from ALL over the world, not just India. Additionally, lobbyists should be stopped from harassing congress about the H1B Visa issue. These decisions are about internal security; it should be considered a crime to sway congressional members into making a decision that would weaken our defenses. I’ll add that this H1B Visa issue is in all of the Indian papers daily and is continually talked about because it is a critical issue to them. Why, because our jobs ARE THEIR ECONOMY.

    Hopefully, corporations and government bodies will wake up and look at this profoundly troubling security issue soon. After all, corporations share all of our natural resources as well, and it’s in their best interest to keep it safe.

    In closing, all Americans who are in IT should have a job. Where you are young, old, straight, gay, or race or creed, all Americans in IT should have a job before any foreign workers granted an H1B Visa.

    • Yes. I live in the United States of America, give these jobs to Americans! I live in (rural) Pennsylvania, and I see Asians and Indians all over the place. They don’t work in warehouses or department stores! Nope, “technology” companies. I get emails and phone calls from “offshore” recruiters as well.

  9. But hey- it’s the Mexicans coming in taking all the jobs. Lmao!! idiots. Trump has everyone believing the Mexicans are the problem mean while this whole country is turning Into little India. Again IDIOTS

    My whole apartments complex is filled with Indians that basically took over American Express. These ppl don’t even have good hygiene the effing stink. I can’t even go to the gym and get a work out if more than two of them are in there bc it’s smells like BO to the max. But no one is doing anything about it except fool you with the keep your eye on the southern border and build a wall. Idiot

  10. Kirk Shrewsbury

    Having worked in India and conversed with a number of Indian coworkers, I have concluded that when they come to the US for college, they intend from the beginning to stay here after graduation. It takes an American paycheck to pay off the American college debts. If we made them all go home after college, they would never come here in the first place.

    And of course, it takes a falsely obtained H1B visa to stay. Working at a company that did considerable hiring of young Asian recent college grads, I watched them abuse the visa program routinely. They have to claim that no Americans want this job, so they post a job notice in the basement, then assert they got no responses from Americans.

    I say send them all home. Our deal has always been “send me your poor , your ragged, etc,” to do work that Americans REALLY don’t want to do, and with our American public education and upward mobility, your children can become doctors and lawyers and Indian chiefs. Rags to riches in one generation. But give us one generation of minimum wage work that middle class Americans won’t do. Recent college grads and doctors trained in foreign medical schools have no business being here.

    Besides, we have should not brain drain the Asian countries. Their young educated people should stay home and help their country become a better place to live. I say get rid of the H1B visa entirely. Of course, we would need some kind of “Albert Einstein exception” to get the very top people in any field, the future Nobel prize winners. But all of the young Asian software and computer engineers should stay home and let Americans have American jobs.

    • > Of course, we would need some kind of “Albert Einstein exception” to get the very top people in any field, the future Nobel prize winners.

      And that was the intent of the H1-B program wasn’t it? To bring in foreign talent when no U.S. citizens could be found that could do the work? Look at what it’s been allowed to become.

      • NoOneInParticular

        No. That was never the intent. Silicone Valley was sick and tired of paying $100 to $200 to $300 dollars an hour to people who could make the machines work. And after that, Wall Street figured out it could get a 5 for 1 return on IT workers and just ran with it.

        It’s ALWAYS been about paying less for workers! You’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise.

  11. The company I work for recently won a 4-year government IT contract in MD. It required us to hire about 50 people, most of them “Software Engineers” or “Software Developers”. I wasn’t closely involved in the hiring process, but estimate that 80% are foreign-born. I know these positions pay (depending on experience) high five-digit to low six-digit salaries; and that the benefits include 10 holidays, 15 vacation/sick days, full medical and dental, a company-sponsored 401(k) with company contributions, and so on. In other words: they pay average (nobody working as a contractor for the government can pay above average).

    Why did this not attract US citizens? Please, help me here…

    • C’mon really? I know many people who have applied for jobs such as what you are referring to above. But also, look at the average salaries of software engineers in the DC Metro area. You are well below, and you must have a huge profit margin because I know what bidding is like for these GS contracts. It’s also WELL KNOWN and PUBLISHED by law. So, you’ve done precisely what USCIS is saying is being done. Paying below the industry average and using the H1B Visa process to bring them in and keep them indentured and make a killing.

  12. An American

    Were the job postings made public?
    Americans are looking for work. A near 6-figure salary looks good, although you have to consider the cost of living for the area.
    I’m semi-retired from the telcom industry, and I had a recruiter call with a job, doing exactly what i did, IN NEW YORK CITY, with a pay rate of $28.00 PER HOUR. I mentioned that,
    the cost of living is high in the big cities, and I’d take maybe $100 per hour . No clue!

    • I can commiserate: I lived in NJ within commuting distance to NYC and used to work for AT&T and Lucent Technologies. I was eventually laid off, together with tens of thousands of my peers. Most of them stayed in the area, and you are competing with all of them. I moved (initially to central Florida, later to central Maryland), and both moves got me jobs (FL@$35/hr no benefits; MD at close to $100k with full benefits).

      Lesson Learned: move to an area where the jobs are!

    • I think the trick they use is that the job has to be posted somewhere. Not necessarily in a locale where IT people tend to live (i.e., near cities where companies are actually located), just *somewhere*. Need programmers in Mountain View? Good grief, you surely wouldn’t post job ads in New York or Chicago. Post a job ad in Boise—and, bingo, you’ve satisfied that “we tried to find an American” requirement.

  13. Modi sux

    My real concern is the whistle needs to be blown on the massive frauds these Indian companies are doing it is at a point of organized crime how they get money out of the big corporations. Leadership needs to wake up at companies.

    Also they are breaking HR rules as in America there is reverse discrimination of non Indians.

  14. … because its easy to cry over something you can not do than competing. I am sorry if I am rude but it is what it is. Every foreign worker will go back when all the AMERICAN companies doing business in their countries pack bags and come back to home land. I do business with you but you can not – is the new policy of the above hate commentators. Such a hypocrisy. Shame!!

    • Kakdi, it’s called FAIR competition. Americans are getting sick and tired of it. Have you ever heard the story of the Scorpian And The Frog?

      “A scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung by the scorpion, but the scorpion argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. The scorpion climbs onto the frog’s back and the frog begins to swim, but midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung, to which the scorpion replies “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.”

      Or maybe you have heard of the Tragedy of the Commons?

      The tragedy of the commons is a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users, by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.

      How it applies here: The abuse of this situation is going to kill the very thing that has helped keep you and your country stay afloat the last 20 years. Do you really want to keep going down this abusive path? Because in the end, when we fight back in earnest, you will lose everything.

  15. Another article just to keep people talking and vomiting endless racist rants.

    By the way, nothing has substantially changed in the last two years and nothing will in the next two.

    • I guess it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. The reality is that everything you are reading that you call “racist” was at family dinner tables and not said in public. It’s why half of America was surprised by Trumps win in the last election. You get to choose. Either listen to what everyone has to say, you wear blinders and get blind sided by the next election.

      By listening to everyone’s opinion, you are more likely to invoke change if that’s what you seek.

  16. Nearly every corporation has a back door to sponsoring H1B aka cheap labor. Bigger companies lobby Congress ie bribe to keep letting them bring people at will. I don’t think we’ll ever have a resolution

  17. I worked for a software company Commvault. Another problem is that often high up executives (VPs/Directors) in the development are Indian. And they only hire their own from India and for the most part ignore hiring Americans. The US does need to continue to crack down and put limits on this. The talent does exist in the US and often this is why college students are not getting jobs.

  18. I’m an over 50 software engineer that’s been squeezed out by the “Tech Talent Shortage”. I’m looking at starting a new career. I hear that there aren’t enough accountants and they are in high demand. Can anyone tell me if this is true or is it just another version of the H-1B talent shortage scam?

    • Are you open to a move? May I suggest MD or northern VA, in particular the greater DC/Baltimore area. Plenty of demand for software engineers, even those 50 and older that have not kept up with the latest tools. There are jobs for COBOL/DB2 developers (really, that is still being used); .NET developers, we even have some classic ASP code that needs maintaining! Experienced developers can expect about $100k and full benefits.

      Go where the jobs are!

    • Jeff, it’s referred to by Venture Capitalists and many corporate brass as having a “Short Runway” it’s how they tell one another not to hire you because your age is over 40. The terrible thing here is that very few of them are actually tech savvy in their own right. They’ve hijacked our field because of how lucrative its become. Don’t give up! Start your own business if you have to and bid for your own projects. This entire thing makes me so angry!

  19. Why is Cognizant, the biggest abuser of H1B visas is allowed to bring in Business Analysts from India to work at Nike? I don’t understand how they get away with this nonsense. Since when is Business Analysis a skill in short supply in the USA?

  20. If the US government cared about its citizens, it would eliminate all work visas and green cards. Just think about all of the jobs that would be opened up for US citizens! But politicians care more about serving corporations than the electorate. It makes absolutely no sense to allow companies to hire foreigners while qualified US citizens are unemployed or underemployed. US based companies should be forced to hire American citizens, for the good of the country. Patriotism trumps profits and greed in a sane world. If you care more about personal profits than the health of your country, then get the hell out!