What H-1B Software Engineers Make at Google, Apple, Facebook, More

How much are software engineers on the H-1B visa making at some of the nation’s largest tech companies? At first glance, the answer seems simple: quite a lot. But there are nuances in the data worth paying attention to.

For the purposes of this exercise, we turned to the H-1B Salary Database, which indexes the Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). We’ve narrowed down the analysis to software engineers before, in October 2019; of course, many things have changed in the interim, so it’s worth updating the data.

For reference, here are the October 2019 numbers:

And here are the July 2020 numbers. As you can see, the Google, Microsoft, and Apple salaries (the three companies for which we can draw a direct comparison) have all increased substantially: 

That’s much higher than the “average” technologist salary of $94,000 (according to Dice’s 2020 Tech Salary Report), but it’s roughly on par with what these big technology companies pay their software engineers in general. Here’s a breakdown of entry-level software engineer salaries at some of the biggest, crowdsourced via levels.fyi:

That’s not the whole story, of course. These tech firms subcontract H-1B workers of all specializations from business-services and consulting firms; according to a dataset from the U.S. Department of Labor, for instance, Apple drew in 2,274 H-1B workers off this secondary market in 2019, while Google subcontracted 889. And data suggests that the H-1B workers at these subcontracting firms earn significantly less than their counterparts at other companies: At Accenture, the median H-1B salary of $96,366, while at Tata, it’s $68,000, and at Capgemini, it’s $89,918 (at IBM, which engages in business consulting in addition to its tech business, it’s $86,653).

Once you start peering into this secondary market, determining the median or average salary for various H-1B jobs becomes a lot murkier, despite attempts by the federal government force these companies to reveal more. 

Trump’s temporary ban on H-1B visas (which is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, but which could theoretically extend if he wins re-election) may also have a substantial impact on salaries for H-1B workers already in the country, particularly if they truly have a specialized skillset that companies have great trouble sourcing. In theory, an extended ban could also drive tech companies to make more domestic hires.

A re-emphasis on domestic technologists is certainly one of the intentions of the ban. “In the administration of our Nation’s immigration system, we must remain mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labor market, particularly in the current extraordinary environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labor,” the order states. “Historically, when recovering from economic shocks that cause significant contractions in productivity, recoveries in employment lag behind improvements in economic activity.”

Of course, it will take several quarters to accurately measure the ban’s impact. In the meantime, the largest tech companies seem happy to pay relatively high salaries to their H-1B software engineers—the ones they source directly, at least. 

54 Responses to “What H-1B Software Engineers Make at Google, Apple, Facebook, More”

  1. James Murphy

    This is what is called cherry picking the dat to get the result you want. The H-1B is cheap labor pure and simple. The H-1B started in 1990 meaning you have ignored a lot of data.

    The Labor Department characterizes H-1B pay levels as:

    1. Entry
    2. Qualified
    3. Experienced
    4. Fully Competent

    The Government Accountability Office says over half of H-1B visas were approved for the lowest skilled, entry-level positions, while only 6 percent were approved for the highest skilled positions.

    https://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1126.pdf

    An Economic Policy Institute report explains that foreign visa holders in STEM fields are most often of lesser or equal skill; and that the most talented and skilled U.S. workers are discouraged because they are easily displaced by cheaper foreign workers.

    https://www.epi.org/publication/bp356-foreign-students-best-brightest-immigration-policy/

    In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Professor Hal Salzman offered that “The U.S. supply of top performing graduates is large and far exceeds the hiring needs of the STEM industries, with only half of new STEM graduates finding jobs in a STEM occupation…”

    https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/03-17-15%20Salzman%20Testimony%20Updated.pdf

    More important is to consider what employers would have to pay if the H-1B did not exist. Without the H-1B any shortage in STEM talent would be addressed by market forces in the same manor as a shortage of office space fare any other product or service. Without the H-1B employers would pay more (supply and demand) with that higher wage attracting more workers to obtain the skilled needed to get those higher wages.

    • “ More important is to consider what employers would have to pay if the H-1B did not exist”

      In that case they’ll take the job out of the country *face palm*

      • Possibly

        Overseas outsourcing comes and goes with companies. I’ve watched a UK developer close their shop in Shanghai because their project success rate was in single digits. I was also contracted to a large US firm that threatened to terminate my employer’s service delivery contract if they tried to move their support staff overseas (my role among dozens of others) because management had a sour taste in their mouth from a previous experience. My company was ready to drop us but the client wasn’t, go figure. As time went on we have grown into a blended model where we give the most menial tasks like updating equipment to overseas workers. It is like having an assistant.

        Outsourcing is like the tide for individual companies, it comes and goes and it is driven by metrics that aren’t solely based on pennies.

    • “Market Forces” ….(slow clap). You want market forces to act? Scrap the limits on H1B and open up the job market. Dont use terms that you dont understand. Outsourcing/Offshoring was a result of market forces. What you want is no free market – you want a controlled job market with artificial supply constraints in favor of those who arrived here earlier.

    • James Bradley

      Not only is it “cherry picking” the data, all those companies cited, are on the west coast, in some of the highest cost of living areas. $167,000.00/yr in Silicon Valley will put you squarely in the poor house.

  2. Jake Leone

    These companies make an immense, per employee, profit:

    Google – 135,000$/yr profit per employee
    Apple – 400,000$/yr
    Facebook – 635,000$/yr

    They can afford to pay more. But if they pay more, then all the other employees will ask for a raise. Tech executive compensation is tied to overall profits and if everyone gets paid even half of what they are worth to these companies, that overall profit will shrink a little (like 10%). And then the big executive bonuses will shrink to 1/2 of whatever the board set them at.

    Hiring H-1b workers also has another great affect, it scares the heck out of existing employees from asking for raise.

    Trump’s executive order has a provision to change from a lottery to a salary ranking when doling out H-1b visas. The tech executives hate this. And the reason is because they all have big contracts with Offshore Outsourcing companies. Offshore Outsourcing companies pay well below these level. I have to ask, the tech companies should be jumping for joy at this executive order. Because they should be able to score all the H-1b visas. But sadly, we hear only how bad this executive order is and that Trump must go.

    Well welcome to the Oligarchianist reality that is America today.

    • Chelse

      Google did pay high to the employees in self driving car unit. Most of them exited as they don’t need money any more. Google’s business is stuck. So, just paying based on the profits can get the total business down. That will result in poor products to the end user.

      • Jake Leone

        Seems like Google’s car unit lacks an ecosystem. The car companies have the ecosystem to support development to the consumer.

        I think it is more likely they left for higher pay. Probably at companies that have an ecosystem already in place.

        This has been a problem since the early days of Google. An engineer at Google, more than a decade ago, wrote about this problem. Google has produced many failed platforms over the years. Yet other, doing nearly identical stuff (Facebook for example) have dramatically succeeded.

        YouTube has done well, but Google didn’t start it. They acquired it.

        I think Google is a aging giant that is just living on it’s cash cow search and advertisement engine.

  3. Jake Leone

    Nothing is more truthful about the real intentions of these Tech companies than the Email exchange between Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs in the infamous “No Poaching” scandal.

    These tech executive don’t want a free market for labor. They want trapped labor.

    But what really drives innovation in the United States, is that American citizens can leave the job at any time, and start competing businesses. In doing so, they tend to unlock a great deal of technology and make it more available to the world.

    But as we had seen in the “No Poaching” case, the tech executive want trapped labor. And nothing satisfies that trapped labor like the long H-1b to Green Card delay.

    I think if we really want innovation in the country to speed up, we need to put control of the Green Card process in the hands of the H-1b worker. Further, we need an entrepreneurial exit possibility for H-1b workers.

    • Jake Leone

      Most software is only protected by copyright, so if you software is original, you probably won’t be sued, successfully.

      There are cases of people removing documents and using that at their new employer, yes you can be sued for that.

      Also, some software is patented, this typically has greater protection.

  4. truth speaker

    ask Google, Microsoft, Amazon, facebook, how many US citizens they hired in the age group 40 – 50. These guys will perhaps hire in age group 22- 35. That tells the story.

    • Yes, the older tech worker just keeps getting the short end of the stick on this issue. Moreover, remember that many of the decision makers (managers) are H1B or former H1B who can, as a company, set in motion the process for a green card, which immediately changes the employee’s status and opens up the H1B spot.

      • Christine

        That is not how H-1Bs work. There is a certain number given a year. The individuals are selected specifically, not the companies. If the individual who got the H-1B no longer needs it for whatever reason (became permanent resident, changed to another status, or left country) the company cannot just give that H-1B to someone else. The H-1B goes with the person to new employers (though a new application is needed to make sure that new job still meets salary and work type requirements) if they look for and receive another job. H-1Bs which are not used or abandoned do not become available to the company to use or even to other workers to apply for. Many of these people slamming the H-1B system do not seem to know how it – or tech hiring in general – works.

        • Jake Leone

          Keep in mind, when you read the following, Joe Biden has said he will cancel this change on Day-1 of his administration.

          If there are an excess number of requests, the recipients of the H-1b are selected randomly, in a lottery. Trump’s executive order will change this to a selection by salary ranking. That one provision should make it very difficult for the Offshore Outsourcing company to win more than half the generally available H-1b visas (for the person that they applied).

          Offshore Outsourcing companies game (and mostly win) about half the generally available H-1b visa, under the lottery. Which seems a huge waste. But the big tech companies don’t care because they all have big contracts with these Offshore Outsourcing companies. Offshore Outsourcing companies specialize in removing jobs from United States. Offshore Outsourcing do not sponsor people for Green Cards or citizenship.

          Keep in mind the Offshore Outsourcing companies then go on to start removing entire departments from ordinary businesses and ship them overseas to India. After the Americans trained their H-1b replacements of course.

          While Americans were losing their jobs and home, during the Slowest Recovery In U.S. History, under Barack Obama. The Offshore Outsourcing companies built a 100 billion dollar per year export industry in India. That exports workers to the United States. As a result, the United States is India’s #1 export destination, and it is all services, it is all an export of workers to the United States.

          That is why the big tech companies want the entire Trump executive order cancelled. And the big tech companies are saying they want more (or unlimited) numbers of H-1b visas. Nothing stops people asking for raises like the threat of H-1b replacment.

          Joe Biden will willingly throw your job under the bus for the sake of campaign support from PAC and their lobbyists. We may be in a tough situation due to a virus that came from overseas. But can we be so naive that we then elect another President that will give us another record slow recovery?

          • Seriously, you people will put the country in peril by voting for Trump for another 4 years over 1 issue? And, this issue is only important for IT people. What makes you think if Trump is reelected and the tech companies go to him and say we need this changed as we can’t find qualified American workers, that he won’t change it back? Perhaps you all should go watch some episodes of The Apprentice before you vote. Perhaps you will see how he changes with the wind. Sadly, we don’t have a lot of choices. Only the rich have choices. America is all about capitalism and that won’t change any time soon or perhaps never.

          • JT, I think you have no business commenting here if you think that this is all about 1 issue. This 1 issue as you call it, has affected millions of families since 1990’s. You have a very myopic point of view. Parents go into debt to pay for their children’s education. Young people go into debt to be able to get a university degree. Perhaps there has been a growing aversion to STEM related degrees because, guess what – they know they would have to compete against the low rates paid to H1B foreign workers. You obviously do not have a deep appreciation of cause and effect; as well as correcting what’s wrong.

            Trump has ambitions for his children to carry on his legacy and for them to even run for office. I would say that Trump would protect american jobs because of this, more than Biden will. You constantly say – what’s our guarantee that Trump will not turn around if he gets re-elected. He is full of surprises but I think there is a better chance of him dissing big companies that have abused the H1b visa program than american people.

          • Jake Leone

            HI JT Biden has already said, on Tape (just go to YouTube). That he will rescind the entire Trump executive order on Day-1.

            Trump’s executive order contains a provision that will change from lottery system (which is an idiot system gamed an won by Offshore Outsourcing companies). To a system where selection is based upon salary ranking. Offshore Outsourcing companies pay the lowest salaries.

            The Offshore Outsourcing industry in India, grew to 100 billion dollars a year under the Obama administration. At a time of the slowest recovery in U.S. History. Trump starting rejecting most of the H-1b visas requests by Offshore Outsourcing companies and our unemployment rate was nearing 3% before covid (from 7% under Obama). That’s a huge improvement. The stock market would be well above 30k, under Trump, if not for covid.

            Covid will be defeated by the vaccine. People who have had covid are not remarkably resistant to re-infection. This points to the strong possibility that the vaccine will work spectacularly.

            Biden will also, likely, reinstate the high corporate taxes, further driving away investment.

            The logic behind re-electing Trump is very strong. The illogic of electing Biden is plain. Biden will give us either the slowest recovery (hey is already talking about “Green Jobs” and a new Paris accorde) … slowest recovery in U.S. History or the 2nd slowest (it is hard to match Obama on this).

            Economic disasters happen from time to time. But Trump values every job. Biden is already throwing American workers under the bus with his inability to realize how intelligent the the change from a lottery to a salary ranking is, in regards to the H-1b.

            But hey, 4 other bought off Presidents Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama didn’t make this change. I wonder why? Could it be they were all career politicians, beholden to the Donor class and Big Tech? Definitely that fits the pattern plainly.

          • jake leone

            Sorry I must correct this:

            “Covid will be defeated by the vaccine. People who have had covid are remarkably resistant to re-infection. This points to the strong possibility that the vaccine will work spectacularly.”

            I wish I could edit my responses, again sorry for the typo. Heard the above this morning on CNN.

  5. Patrick

    Why are you comparing the median wage of H-1B to entry level positions? This is saying that for your typical H-1B worker with around mid career experience is being paid entry level wages.

  6. Mark R

    Worth noting that LCA salary data represents the MINIMUM that a firm agrees to pay in order to get initial Department of Labor permission to try to recruit someone with an H-1b. Actually salaries are subject to negotiation but ONLY UPWARDS.

  7. 1. The average American citizen who works in technology is often the first to be laid off before H1B visa team members. You must be exceptional US technologist not to be laid off.
    2. H1B Visa people grow to a management level and want to work with there countrymen. They do not see it as discrimation but qualification for there degree from there country. Degrees for most US Citzens are BS or BA. I think this education level is equlivant to other countries Master level. The challenge in US is the level of intent focus. STEM is to help in this regard but inspirtiob and encouragement is needed.
    3.Average Americans are not given any inspiration to work in technoloy although many are capable. The requirement for these jobs are for higher degrees in engineering or math or science where Americans have a knowledge that covers more liberal arts with degrees of much wider spread of interests.
    4. As an US born, my salary usually is less than the H1B worker. The H1B worker is forced to stay put …I have the freedom to change jobs at will. Taking the opportunity to change is only because of the downturns in the economy for most. Equity in salary growth is expected for US workers where H1B worker has a fixed cap.
    5. The work cultures are different. Allegence to a countryman in rank and file is stronger than company’s allegiance to there countryman. More US company are willing to bring in talent and keep them in temporary status so they can be moved to new locations easier.

    Labor laws and immigration laws nreed to reviewed and enforced to be effective for the US citizen to be utilized in the9 technology industry. US born should have an advantage over H1B for jobs invUS

  8. “Market Forces” ….(slow clap). You want market forces to act? Scrap the limits on H1B and open up the job market. Dont use terms that you dont understand. Outsourcing/Offshoring was a result of market forces. What you want is no free market – you want a controlled job market with artificial supply constraints in favor of those who arrived here earlier.

    • jake leone

      The H-1b visa is a U.S. government program. And so is the Green Card. The problem has been that for decades the wait for the Green Card has taken decades for some H-1b recipients. The Green Card must be filed and carried through by a person’s employer. If the employees leaves the company, they go to back of the line of the Green Card process.

      This H-1b to Green Card wait effectively destroys the Free Market forces that you are talking about. And it prevents the H-1b employee from exercising their 13th amendment right to leave their employer and seek a better paying job.

      Also, most of the generally available H-1b visas go to Offshore Outsourcing companies. Companies that specialize in the removal of jobs from the United States. We don’t need our Federal Government to be assisting such companies. That assistance, under Barack Obama, gave us the slowest recovery in U.S. History.

      Trump’s executive order will change from an idiotic lottery for H-1b visas, to one based upon salary ranking, higher have the better chance. This should kick a lot of the Offshore Outsourcing companies out of the H-1b system, as the Offshore Outsourcing companies pay the lowest salaries to H-1b workers.

      H-1b may seem like part of a free market system, but it is simply a government program that industry likes. They like it because it creates an artificial class of non-immigrant labor, that cannot ask for raise, that cannot without risk switch jobs. And that risk is the risk of losing your place in line for a Green Card and/or having to return to abject poverty in India.

    • @abhi – “market forces” don’t actually care about you and your interests – they’re simply looking at the money. That people from certain countries have jammed into the program and schemed to take jobs doesn’t really matter to the market. We need to control the process to allow for Americans to succeed and thrive. Just as other countries do.

    • H1B program is a subsidy to large corporations. Since their on a three year evaluation, corporations can just turn over the job to another H1B. The H1B can’t apply to another job because the visa is tied to another employer. How is this market forces? It’s a race to the bottom. The only way to win is not to play.

  9. NoName

    i just received email for job at Cognizant through some staffing company…enjoy

    .Net Developer
    Rate – $37/hr on W2(Without Benefits) or $45 on C2C(All inclusive).
    Location: Charlotte, NC

    it requires 7+ years experience in All skills mentioned in the Detail.

  10. The H1b program needs to have the dual-use clause REMOVED or the eligibility for H1b visas needs to reflect the PER-COUNTRY caps that exist for Green Cards. And the total number needs to be reduced to manageable levels – the government currently cannot give a total number of people using H1b visas – renewed multiple times – and cut the number of new H1b visas until the manageable level is achieved. The H4 EAD must stop – there is no established labor need for the H4 EAD. Plus, the OPT and CPT programs need to be reviewed and the multiple renewals of the F1 (student) visa needs a limit. We need to have better control on this. As long as any of our American STEM grads cannot get a job we have to put the brakes on this harmful progam.

    • “The H4 EAD must stop – there is no established labor need for the H4 EAD”

      What about human rights, why is it the case that a woman who is eligible to come to US live here, get a green card and become US citizen is not eligible to work. Without ability to work woman are nothing more than property of their husbands. They must rely on their husbands for food and money. In many red states such women were not allowed to drive cars or have bank accounts before H4 EAD was enabled.

      “Plus, the OPT and CPT programs need to be reviewed and the multiple renewals of the F1 (student) visa needs a limit.”
      There are no renewals, it is only given once and then deportation.

  11. You are taking the national average salaries and comparing them to the H1B LCA (public data). The LCA is the bare minimum an H1B can be paid, but in reality they are paid much more (bonuses, stocks, raises, salary negociation, extra benefits) all of which is private data.

  12. Why do they are hiring this essential skill workers at the bottom of the pay scales. Amazon (SDE) is entry level, Microsot(SDE) is entry level, Apple ICT2 is entry level ang google (L3) is entry level postions. It is good salary, but they are all entry level positions with no previews experience.

  13. William

    I applied at a tech firm and say this today:
    “The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic is extending to global travel and immigration, where border closures and visa processing suspensions are creating and will continue to create significant uncertainty for our candidates, their families, and our business. Given this situation, we are currently suspending immigration sponsorship and cross-border relocation in some of our regions. . We will continue to closely monitor information provided by relevant government and health organizations as we revisit the decision in local markets.”

  14. Vellore

    To clarify to everyone, the data given in the article is one quarter behind and not accurate. Only correct for Facebook. The data is only until March 30, 2020 (end of Q2). It is quite different when we verify excels and other site that does the same thing. The below data is until FY 2020 Q3 ( end of June 30th). You can see the submitted date for LCA records to verify to tell that the data is one quarter behind.

    Check below :
    Google : $ 143,000 –> https://h1bgrader.com/h1b-sponsors/google-llc-em2mg7pj21
    Microsoft : $141,000 –> https://h1bgrader.com/h1b-sponsors/microsoft-corporation-ew2x79yyk3
    Apple : $155,000 –> https://h1bgrader.com/h1b-sponsors/apple-inc-6g06vq412q
    Amazon : $138,000 –> https://h1bgrader.com/h1b-sponsors/amazon-web-services-inc-dvk4yjppkw

  15. These are just the base salaries. At Amazon, even the executives make no more than $160k as base salary. The real money comes from the stocks (RSUs). Same for the other companies. The real average salary for a intermediate SDE in these companies is about 200-400k. (Probably more if they are in the bay area).

  16. Withheld

    I’ve worked in IT for over 30 years and have seen first hand the influx of H1B. At first it was a cheap labor source for companies to increase their profitability. In reality, it wasn’t because it usually took our H1B twice as long to do the same task if not more. In the past 5 years or so the H1B that is not classified as entry level is often making more than the American counterparts. Those that are classified as entry level are making slightly less. But then one should question why are you hiring an H1B for anything less than expert?

    There are some H1Bs that are worth the money, but I haven’t met one yet that has a skill that cannot be found within the U.S.