With the incoming Biden administration, the rules governing the H-1B visa (and employment-based immigration in general) could undergo a radical shift over the next few years. At this pivotal moment, it’s worth examining which kinds of technology jobs pay H-1B workers the most.
In order to figure that out, 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). The full list of jobs and salaries includes a number of non-tech roles in industries such as healthcare. For our purposes, we isolated tech roles that received more than 1,000 H-1B filings last year.
As you can see, the highest-paying H-1B technology jobs are at the senior engineer and executive level, which should come as no surprise. They also paid in the six-figure range, which aligns with the visa’s original intention of allowing companies to secure highly specialized talent worth that cost.
Indeed, when it comes to the H-1B visa, wages have always been a key issue. For many years, critics have argued that some companies—mostly contracting and business-services firms—abuse the H-1B visa to import workers from overseas who earn far less than their American counterparts. During the Trump administration, various agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), launched new rules and guidelines designed to counter this reported abuse.
For example, DHS proposed a rule in 2018 that would favor H-1B applicants with advanced degrees, who would presumably be paid more than the majority of current applicants. In the closing days of the Trump administration, another proposed rule would have effectively eliminated the H-1B lottery (based on random selection) in favor of a new system that prioritized high-wage applicants. Such moves were always presented as a way to ensure the H-1B is used as intended, to provide companies with unique (and costly) talent from overseas that was otherwise unavailable domestically.
Whether the Biden administration tweaks these rules or disposes of them altogether remains to be seen. Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 aims to provide “dependents of H-1B visa holders” with work authorization, for starters, but the White House hasn’t announced many details of its H-1B plans.