Google, Apple, Amazon, Other Tech H-1B Salaries in 2020: Still High

How much are some of the biggest names in tech paying their H-1B workers?

To figure that out, we crunched some numbers from the H1B Salary Database, which indexes the Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). The last time we performed this exercise (in October 2019), we limited our examination to software engineers at Google, Apple, and Microsoft; this time, we expanded our scope to all H-1B employees at eight tech companies. While analyzing software engineer salaries is useful, these firms also use the H-1B to bring on analysts, scientists and other tech-centric workers.    

Here’s how the salary numbers break down. These were captured in the first quarter of 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so it will be interesting to see if these numbers shift in the future:

One thing should jump out at you immediately: the median H-1B salary at Netflix is twice as high than at other firms. Why is that? A job-by-job breakdown reveals that, in 2020, Netflix has been willing to pay enormous salaries for senior research scientists and software engineers—as much as $600,000 for a computer graphics pipeline lead and a senior software engineer, for example. 

Netflix has a longstanding reputation for paying higher-than-average salaries, and it seems like this applies in the context of H-1B. “To help us attract and retain stunning colleagues, we pay employees at the top of their personal market,” reads a note on the company’s website. “We make a good-faith estimate of the highest compensation each employee could make at peer firms, and pay them that maximum.” 

But even at other firms, the median H-1B salary is well into six figures; compare that to the “average” tech salary of $94,000 (according to Dice’s 2020 Tech Salary Report). In theory, these salary numbers are in keeping with the H-1B program’s original mission, which is to bring in highly specialized talent from overseas that companies can’t find domestically.

However, these tech firms also subcontract H-1B workers from business-services and consulting firms. For example, according to a dataset from the U.S. Department of Labor, which breaks down over 412,425 H-1B cases (and also reveals the “secondary entities” where primary employers might send H-1B workers as subcontractors), Google hired 7,604 H-1B candidates directly in 2019, and outsourced an additional 889. Here’s a deeper breakdown of how some of tech’s largest companies subcontract:

Moreover, there are indications that subcontracted workers are paid lower than the H-1B workers that big tech firms source directly. At Accenture, H-1B workers are paid a median salary of $96,366; at Tata, it’s $68,000; at Capgemini, it’s $89,918; and at IBM, which engages in business consulting in addition to its tech business, it’s $86,653. Thanks to subcontractors, the actual median salary at some big tech firms could be quite a bit lower.

Of course, COVID-19 could change things radically over the next year or so. For starters, 2020 H-1B visa processing has undergone significant delays. Meanwhile, four U.S. senators recently sent a letter to President Trump that asks for a suspension of all new guest worker visas, including the H-1B, for at least the next 60 days and possibly the next year. H-1B denials were already elevated (historically speaking) before COVID-19. How all of these factors will impact visa applications, acceptances, and denials into 2021 and beyond is anyone’s guess.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center, which aims to provide the tech community with the best, most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus. 

17 Responses to “Google, Apple, Amazon, Other Tech H-1B Salaries in 2020: Still High”

  1. The underpayment of H-1B workers is well-established fact, not rumor, anecdote or ideology. It has been confirmed by two congressionally-commissioned reports, and a number of academic studies, in both statistical and qualitative analyses. Underpayment of H-1B workers leads to depressed wages overall in the STEM fields that use these destructive visas, hurting domestic workers

    An employer survey conducted by the GAO (GAO, 2003) found that some employers readily admitted to paying H-1B foreign workers less than comparable Americans, but noted that they were nevertheless paying the legally required wage (i.e., the “prevailing wage”), thereby illustrating that the latter is indeed below the market wage.

    The GAO found that, “some employers said that they hired H-1B workers in part because these workers would often accept lower salaries than similarly qualified U.S. workers; however, these employers said they never paid H-1B workers less than the required wage.”[1]

    This jibes with a previous employer survey[2], commissioned by Congress, that found, “…H-1B workers in jobs requiring lower levels of IT skill received lower wages, less senior job titles, smaller signing bonuses, and smaller pay and compensation increases than would be typical for the work they actually did.”

    So two employer surveys, one by the government and the other commissioned by the government, had employers actually admitting to underpaying their H-1B foreign workers. And the GAO shows that the employers admit that the prevailing wage, the legal wage floor for H-1Bs, is a joke. The data in the paper shows the underpayment statistically as well.

    [1] H-1B Foreign Workers: Better Tracking Needed to Help Determine H-1B Program’s Effects on U.S. Workforce
    GAO-03-883, US General Accounting Office, Sept. 2003

    [2] Building a Workforce for the Information Economy.
    National Research Council. 2001.

  2. Steve

    Check this out:

    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.

  3. Aditya Goyal

    Why is the stock based compensation not mentioned when Google and FB salaries are compared to Netflix. Netflix compensation is all cash and no stock. Google compensation always includes a heavy stock component on top of base salary. Netflix pays 300k cash to compete with Google and FB cash + stock.
    You make it sound like Netflix engineers make twice as much.. which is factually incorrect. Poor research

  4. Aditya Goyal

    A true reflection of total compensation of engineers including H1Bs at FANG can be find at levels.fyi
    That’s what we use a yardstick when negotiating offers.

  5. Prashant Dickbig

    Im waiting for the dumb americans who think they can do the h1b jobs to cry about how h1bs should be abolished because they can get jobs. Word of advice, instead of crying abour it, git gud so you can compete with superior h1b workers.

    • Tnahsarp Gibkcid

      Actually many of the “dumb” Americans you’re complaining about are recent green card recipients who thought they could finally get out of the slave labor force and get paid a fair amount but because of the companies that developed expertise in gaming and abusing the h1b system along with the American sales oriented greedy bastards, are not able to do so.. and guess what they got here already because they’re smarter and better than you. Guess what we don’t need no h1bs anymore but those greedy bastards now get a change to offshore to your kind for pennies on the dollar… tech workers on both sides lose .. abusers and greedy bastards win ..

    • Milly

      I’m looking forward to someone as ungrateful as ‘Prashant dickbig’ leaving the country. The false name, unsurprisingly, refers to inadequate physical characteristics of certain people.

  6. Steve Jones

    Facebook , Google and Microsoft above 200 K H1B Base Salaries LCA Filings for 2020.

    Facebook : https://h1bsalary.online/index.php?searchtext=FACEBOOK+INC&year=2020&minsalary=200000

    Google : https://h1bsalary.online/index.php?searchtext=GOOGLE+LLC&year=2020&minsalary=200000

    Microsoft : https://h1bsalary.online/index.php?searchtext=MICROSOFT+CORPORATION&year=2020&minsalary=200000

    Looking at these numbers, it doesn’t look like much has changed.

  7. Sooo, with all the H1B people leaving the country right now because of pandemic, did you all whiners got the former H1B job you were waiting for so many years??

  8. Great 2020 study on H1b visa and prevailing levels (Check below link). Feel free to share.

    https://www.epi.org/publication/h-1b-visas-and-prevailing-wage-levels/

    Key takeaways:
    H-1B is a flawed visa program:
    DOL lets H-1B employers undercut local wages. Sixty percent of H-1B positions certified by the U.S. Department of Labor are assigned wage levels well below the local median wage for the occupation. While H-1B program rules allow this, DOL has the authority to change it—but hasn’t.
    A small number of employers dominate the program. While over 53,000 employers used the H-1B program in 2019, the top 30 H-1B employers accounted for more than one in four of all 389,000 H-1B petitions approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2019.
    Outsourcing firms make heavy use of the H-1B program. Half of the top 30 H-1B employers use an outsourcing business model to provide staff for third-party clients, rather than employing H-1B workers directly to fill a special need at the company that applies for the visa.
    Major U.S. firms use the H-1B program to pay low wages. Among the top 30 H-1B employers are major U.S. firms including Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, Google, Apple, and Facebook. All of them take advantage of program rules in order to legally pay many of their H-1B workers below the local median wage for the jobs they fill.