How Do H-1B Salaries Compare to the Average Technologist Salary?

How do H-1B salaries compare to the average technologist’s salary? According to the latest Dice Salary Report, the average technologist made $97,859 in 2020 (an increase of 3.6 percent from 2019), which is a pretty good salary—but H-1B recipients at some of the nation’s largest technology companies made far more.

For H-1B data, we’re relying on the H-1B Salary Database, which indexes the Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). As you can see, the largest tech companies pay their H-1B workers comfortable six-figure salaries:

Yes, the median H-1B salaries at the big tech companies are high, but that’s not the whole story. Across the country, many companies subcontract H-1B workers from business-services and consulting firms—and the latter tends to pay those workers quite a bit less than what they’d make on their own at a big tech firm. At Tata, for example, the median salary (again, according to the H-1B Salary Database) is $67,766; at Accenture, it’s $94,400.

As we’ve pointed out before, many of these large tech firms subcontract a substantial number of H-1B workers from other firms. According to a dataset from the U.S. Department of Labor on H-1B data for fiscal year 2019, for example, Apple sourced 2,274 visa workers from outside firms, while Google did the same for 889. Whether sourced directly or via a subcontractor, many of these visas also tend to be for “software developer” or “software engineer,” making the workers’ ostensible specializations harder to pin down. 

During the Trump administration, the H-1B application denial rate for subcontractors spiked as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) subjected these companies to rigorous scrutiny. Critics of the visa system fear that the Biden administration will relax Trump’s policies, leading to a higher approval rate for H-1B applications.

However, there are signs that the Biden administration might continue at least one Trump-era immigration policy in some form. Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 features language (in the respective Senate and House bills) that prioritizes visas based on higher wages. If enacted, that would effectively dispose of the current H-1B lottery in favor of a system that favors high-wage applicants—which would impact the business model of all those consulting firms that depend on paying workers less. 


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22 Responses to “How Do H-1B Salaries Compare to the Average Technologist Salary?”

  1. H1B salaries have always been set by the DOL and the prevailing wage, so if any administration would want to change that, they wouldn’t even need new legislation. If trump didn’t do it, it’s because he didn’t want to; asking Biden to do it now is nonsense.

  2. jake_leone

    Biden could have kept the change from an idiotic lottery, to a salary based allocation, made by Trump.

    Instead, he chose to put that change in jeopardy, and hold it hostage for campaign donations.

    More than half the H-1b visas go to Offshore Outsourcing firms, which by your (DICE) own admission pay a full 1/3 below market wages. And, by your own admission, Google, Apple (and all of Big Tech) hire thousands of workers from those Offshore Outsourcing companies.

    Given that, No can deny the truth that H-1b visas are undercutting the U.S. STEM/IT labor market by a massive amount.

    Big Tech gave Biden 100 million dollars for his campaign. Now Biden, smelling the cash has made what would have been a certain change for the good, from an idiotic lottery to a salary education, into something that the Democrats can sell for more campaign contributions. And the sale is, who can pay more those who want to change from an idiotic lottery to a salary allocation, or those that want to keep the idiotic lottery.

    The same lottery, that under the Obama administration (and during the Great Recession) saw India based Offshore Outsourcing companies grow a 100 billion dollar per year, service export industry, and the United States is 80% of that business.

    But what do I care? Keep making it so that Silicon Valley has only a 1 in 4 chance of winning (directly) and H-1b visa for a worker. That will ensure a steady supply of OPT Trainees. I have decades of domain expertise. The only people that can compete with me from abroad are going to ask for a high six-figure salary. I would be under heavy job pressure if I had to compete with real experience and domain expertise, but that costs around 200+k/year. Under a salary based allocation, I would have a 50/50 chance of keeping my job, year to year. But with the current idiotic system, all we get are low paid freshers, more often OPT students. They just can’t compete yet.

    Let me tell you, by pointing this out I am being a nice guy, but no one wants to listen to an engineer (not enough millions in the bank). Even if that engineer is telling them the truth, and it would benefit the country, and even if that engineer is greasing the blade on the guillotene (not even worth reading for the sake of a chuckle).

    Yeah, thank you for Joe Biden’s and the Democrat’s spiteful removal of the Trump executive order to change to a salary occupation. To Joe Biden, nothing Trump ever did can be right, nothing, because Joe can’t think for himself on this. Joe, lets the dollars do his thinking.

  3. jake_leone

    Even Senators Durbin (Democrat) and Grassley (Republican), two senators that understand the H-1b and Green Card Federal Government programs, have written to the Biden administration in joint letter asking Biden to REINSTATE Trump’s selection of H-1b visas based upon salary, a soon as possible. Ideally, before the next H-1b distribution in April.

    Prediction: Joe Biden, will ignore them, and will continue with the delay. Because Joe is waiting to see which side, Offshore Outsourcing companies, Big Tech, American Labor, the Koch brothers will deliver the most campaign dollars to the Democratic party, and he will do what they ask. Only, then just before the next election cycle, or perhaps just after, will he decide to keep or remove the amendment to the immigration bill.

    That’s what is going to happen. Joe understands the power and the whip of money. He used our Federal Government money to keep his son out of trouble in Ukraine, and there is a video of Joe Biden bragging about it on YouTube (Democrats impeached Trump when he almost did the same thing).

    Joe Biden (after meeting with Big Tech donors) came out and said, in the middle of the worst recession in history, back in 2010, that we need unlimited numbers of H-1b visas. The visas, at that time, were mostly being taken up by Offshore Outsourcing companies. And India built 100 billion dollar service export industry (using those H-1b visas), and the U.S. was (and still is) 80% of that business, all during the recession.

    To Joe Biden, your job is just another thing to be sold for campaign money, for career Democratic politicians.

    Because Joe Biden let’s the dollars do his thinking.

    • Why do you and the other commenters here only focus on 1 issue? America has so many problems and quite frankly H1B is not important. It’s been happening for decades and Biden has been in office for 6 weeks now and oh no, he hasn’t fixed H1B yet. That should have been his first directive. Get real. The corporations and the rich run America and they have no plans to change any of it and it doesn’t matter which party is in power. Whining will not help.

        • Wayne McKinney

          I think the “issues” are stated quite plainly if you look at the NBC, CBS, or ABC Evening News shows. Let’s see, as I remember last night they talked about: Covid-19, Sexual Harrasment by high government officials (as in NY state) that try to get away with it, Flooding in Kentucky, Power but no Water in the South, Water but no Power in the South, Water & Power in the South but Water is not Safe to Drink, people out of work, Congressmen/women making accusations at each other, a possible Conspiracy Theory para-military type assault allegedly being planned for today (3/4/21), Militia groups, and the list goes on and on.

          I think H1-B visas are an important issue because they hit #6 on my list and they affected me personally. I used to work for a large French owned oil-field services company when they started in the “outsourcing” direction in the early 2000’s. I had to teach those outsourcers “how” to do my job and then the company laid me off. Now if that doesn’t sound like a direct attempt to throw me out for the “cheaper” H1-B person, I don’t know what is.

          I got a good job as a developer after that, but in 2012, I lost that good paying job. Ever since I’ve had to price myself down anywhere between $11/hour to $15/hour doing Help Desk work. Even then people wouldn’t hire me because they all wondered “why” I wasn’t looking for a developer job. Why wasn’t I doing that? Well, because only “senior” level jobs were open – positions with experience managing projects and people. I never got that chance because I’d be laid off or replaced with outsourcers before I could get to that status.

          I’m caught in the double-bind of not having experience as a “senior-level” anything because I never got the chance, but then no one gave me the “chance” because the outsourcers (all H1-B’s) were all cheaper than me at doing the work.

          This is all frustrating as heck and something’s (or someone’s) attitude towards American workers (especially older, more experienced American workers) need to change. But, as long as Wall Street wants companies to churn out profits even if to do so hurts American workers of any age, H1-B competition will always be a problem.

          • Wayne, sorry for your troubles. I too went through that same catch-22 but am now an employed “senior” developer. The biggest reason companies seek only us “seniors” is so we will teach the cheaper, 60+ hour “indentured servant” workers including H1Bs how to become “seniors” themselves. Corporate American, including the Big Tech Lords, have saturated the lower ranking engineering staff with foreigners, but not yet us more expensive “seniors.” They post and post and post for “senior” developers but rarely hire even qualified American “seniors” so they can complain to the Far Left US Government about the lack of US talent and demand more cheap H1B “indentured servants” to fill the (fictitious) void. The Big Tech Lords are exploiting a despicable vicious circle, weakening America.

      • Jake_Leone

        Well despite the fact that the topic/article is about H-1b visas.

        During the ’08 recession, Offshore Outsourcing companies started taking up more than half the available H-1b visas. Obama did nothing to stop that. India built a 100 billion dollar service export industry, and the U.S. was 80% of that business.

        If Obama had instead, insisted on diverting (via allowed administrative changes) those visas away from the Offshore Outsourcing companies, two good things would have happened:

        – More of those visas would have been used to bring in actual exceptional engineers, instead of documentation/trainees (which is what the Offshore Outsourcing companies do).
        – The Offshore Outsourcing companies would have been forced to hire locally. Some of those Offshore Outsourcing companies have U.S. workforces (of ten of thousand of people) that are 80-90% here, from India, on an H-1b visa.

        I don’t know if you noticed, but we had a dreadfully slow recovery under Barack Obama. That slow recovery cost Hillary Clinton the election.

        Now there are other issues, trade, and the Paris Climate accords, restricting drilling, limiting resources, that also slowed down our recovery. It seems the Democrats have more of an ability nowadays to slow the economy down, than to speed it up.

        Democrats are great at most of the existential crisis, Some Republicans get the need to preserve and create jobs and increase resource availability. Take your choice, what issues/solution are most important to you?

        The way we use H-1b visas, is one part of the mix that can speed up or slow down our recovery from this recession. I think we should be concentrating on speeding up recovery and making best use of the H-1b visa in order to create a speedier recovery.

        That’s why.

  4. This article is right about the H1-B visas and the contracting companies. The government itself is a big customer and brings them to the US for government IT jobs. It is just wrong! Citizens should be educated and trained for this employment. Corp controlled government does not make an investment in the well being of the people, doesn’t care, is just out for profit. That is what has happened to the country, it was a better place to live before this model took over.

  5. Dan Hatchett

    It’s only important to most people when it effects them, H1B effects the technology industry whether it be IT, Telecom, etc. I find that the majority of people don’t really even know what H1B or any other visa types are, so naturally the majority of people could careless. It’s the oh well it’s not a problem for me, why should I care. Everyone should care immensely especially those that are raising children, tech jobs are more and more the future and their children will need to work somewhere. The days of raising a family by going to some manufacturing facility are over, companies have no desire to hire anyone without experience and you can’t get experience without getting into a trade. The advantage of tech education while it doesn’t give you real world experience, it does give you viable skills like programming, hands on lab experience, and many other potential skills that will help get you in the door, but there won’t be a door to get into if we don’t limit the H1B to what it was designed for highly skilled workers that are very limited in supply not only in the US but around the world, even liberals raising kids should be able to see that this issue is and will continue to be a problem, the question they need to ask themselves is how much would like your children the opportunity to succeed.

  6. Don Pugh

    Over the years, I have worked with many folks that were here on an H1B visas. They were good, intelligent, hardworking men and women that did great jobs. The concern is not the individuals, but the employment system that is basically indentured servitude. They must obey management whims, often have to work 60 to 80 hours a week, and can dare not complain because there is the constant threat of being sent back home. They slave in silence as they dream the American dream that could be taken away anytime.

    A simple solution to solve this issue: The minimum salary should be $200,000. If these workers are truly so valuable, then tech companies should be willing pay a higher salary. Otherwise there are plenty of skilled Americans workers who could do the same job for less.

    • Jake_Leone

      You did a good job discussing some of the problem, and I certainly agree we should raise the minimum salary. But President Trump’s Executive Order (which Sen. Durbin (D) and Grassley (R) sent a letter to President Biden to please re-instate it), was a great way to raise the H-1b salaries, based upon market conditions.

      200k is good number, probably would never be approved, but it should be approved. 100k is more likely something both the Republican and Democrats could agree on, for the right price.

      There are other problems. The worker (not the employer) should carry the H-1b application and the Green Card application. For example, when a worker leaves a company (after successfully getting into the Green Card wait cue) They should be allowed to resume at the same position in the Green Card cue, when they either start a domestic business or assume a new job.

      Also, people undergoing the Green Card PERM process, should get only 2 retries. If both times, the employer finds a qualified local, then the foreign worker should be excluded from the Green Card process for several years. Right now, employers can retry an infinite number of times, even if 99 out of 100 times, they found qualified locals, and that is just insane.

      Company should be required to use any and all Free web advertising for the PERM process. Facebook finds 30+ local qualified STEM/IT workers for every job it puts onto its own website. But for the PERM process job ads, Facebook refused (2600+ times over a 1.5 year period) to place those same job ads on their own website, or for Free in the SF Chronicle. Facebook protected foreign workers from having to complete with better qualified local STEM/IT candidate. Facebook never forwarded the resumes of the better qualified candidates it was finding from job ads on the web, to the hiring managers in the Green Card process.

      This is all documented in a DOJ indictment of Facebook. The information was obtained under threat of a felony obstruction charge. The key thing to realize is the corporations can lie all they want to the public or the press. But they can’t lie to Federal investigators. Facebook finds 30+ more local STEM/IT candidates than it can hire, and that is all in the DOJ indictment and by Facebook’s own admission to Federal investigators.

      But, they tell us lies when talking with the Press. The truth is there is a glut of workers that will go to work for Big Stable Tech companies. Most people hate working at a startup because of the complete lack of job security and often low/compromised pay.

      Big Tech has no problems atracting talent. But a worker stuck in the Green Card cue can’t leave their job, forever, until Green Card day. And that is the kind of indenturement that only the messed up laws of the U.S. Federal Government can provide.

    • Yes, I agree with the issue, but let don’t forget that all Visa employee comes from countries where local salaries less md cost of living is less then here in Silicon Valley. As of today millions of Americans lost their jobs and we cannot find any job – I am looking for almost 5 months for Management position – and those H1 people calling me and half of the time I have a hard time to understand them and 99% of the time they offering me junior position and couldn’t even do their diligent job to research the candidate before they connect with them. And they have a job here in USA, and at the same time qualifying candidates can’t find any jobs here USA. So we are in the middle of the huge crisis and I would love that our government is focusing on global issues with pandemic and jobless and American citizens losing their houses and dying and after all those issue is addressed and resolved… we can address H1 problem… sorry this is just my opinion and btw I am immigrant

  7. The best thing at this forum is the outrage over Biden for not doing what Trump didn’t want to do. They even try to argue with beautifully (but ineffective) sounding explanations criticizing the DOJ, DOL, USCIS, DHS, the White house and any US institution that doesn’t comply exactly with their demands. But the truth is that no matter what they say, the reality is different, we have a strong IT market with low unemployment under 3% and the companies are happy with their H1Bs, otherwise they wouldn’t be hired.

    Look, if these H1Bs were really bad and hurting IT companies’ productivity or prestige, H1Bs would be gone long ago (business is business), not the opposite which is hiring more H1Bs and giving them good salaries and bonuses.

    • Dude, the companies are happy with H1B’s because they provide for cheaper technical labor than would otherwise exist here in America. The American people deserve a professional employment market that is not biased against them. You are obviously off the mark if all you are concerned with is the CEOs’ well being.
      H1B’s discourage American young people from entering the STEM fields because these fields do not pay enough to warrant the personal expense and time of schooling and advanced degrees. Are you in the tech field? Have you invested in your education here in America? IF the employment market was not deliberate skewed to sabotage young American professionals’ careers, the schooling expense, time, and loss of years of wage earning would be worth it.
      Would any other profession stand for a deliberate undercutting of American talent by foreigners who are allowed into the country by the US government at the bidden of companies?

    • Jake_Leone

      You need to look at the hard data, obtained under the threat of felony Obstruction of Justice charges (should anyone lie). Data given to Federal investigators, by Facebook’s own employees.

      That data shows that Facebook routinely finds 30+ fully qualified STEM/IT workers for every job Facebook openly advertises. Out of hundreds of resumes received. Facebook can only hire one person, per job ad. Therefore, Facebook finds 30x more fully qualified STEM/IT people than it can hire.

      You need to look at the data, only half the STEM/IT graduates actually find jobs in a STEM/IT field. That’s a huge waste of U.S. resources. And the reasons given are because of a lack of opportunity and because of better paying non-STEM/IT jobs. Meaning, if employers want more STEM/IT workers, they just have to pay more, it isn’t a shortage of people. Its a shortage of people who will work for well below market wages.

      And that is corroborated by the fact that most H-1b visas are taken up by Offshore Outsourcing companies (that pay 30% less than the average in their field).

      Stable big tech companies find 30x more people than they can hire. Facebook is an example that we have reliable data for, Facebook doesn’t need H-1b visas, yet they are taking them all the time. And the reason we are left with because by Facebook’s own admission, isn’t because they can’t find better qualified (better qualified than the foreign workers they already have) Local STEM/IT candidates (they find 30x more than they can hire).

      The only possible reason is because H-1b workers are tied to their employer for a Green Card, and foreign workers waiting for a Green Card can’t leave their employer (without substantial penalty of going to the back of the Green Card line).

    • Jake_Leone

      The 3% figure you post isn’t relevant. Because other many non-STEM/IT jobs pay more, or have better benefits and job security.

      Ron Hira points outs that half of STEM/IT grads find better jobs in non-STEM/IT fields.
      So actually, you need to take that into consideration when talking about STEM/IT employment levels.

    • Jake_Leone

      If the press or the public ask a Facebook HR executive, do you need more H-1b visas. They will lie and say, yes we need lots more, we can’t find enough STEM/IT people.

      If a Federal investigators asks that same Facebook HR executive, the same question. That Facebook executive will say (and did say), that we get hundreds of resume per openly advertised STEM/IT position.

      Which case do you believe. The case of talking to the public, which has no criminal repercussion for lying. Or the case of talking to Federal investigator, which carries a Felony obstruction of justice charge (the same charge that put Martha Steward, a billionaire, in jail)?

      Which one do you believe?

      • Jake_Leone

        For the case of Federal investigator, I need to add that out of those hundreds of resumes, Facebook admitted to Federal investigators that routinely 30 or more are fully qualified for the job (a job which is tougher than the job done by the foreign workers at Facebook).

    • jake_leone

      Trump did do a lot in regards to H-1b visas. He used the existing laws and regulations to carefully review all H-1b applications. As a result, some Offshore Outsourcing companies were getting a 50% h-1b application rejection rate. Some dubious members of the press played this as Trump administration rejects 25% of all H-1b visas.

      But the reality was that domestic tech companies, that directly hire candidates on an h-1b visas, never had more than single digit rejection rates. Most, the rejection rate was unchanged. Only Outsourcing companies (which with much gluttony hog 50% of the H-1b visas) were hammered under Trump, and that’s fine by me.

      Biden is going back to the Obama days, and so Offshore Outsourcing companies will not have their H-1b applications challenged. Which is one of the big mistakes of the Obama administration. We had an extremely slow recovery from the ’08 recession, under Obama. India built a 100 billion dollar per year service export industry, and the U.S. was 80% of that business. At a time when Americans were losing their jobs and homes, Obama did absolutely nothing to prevent job losses because of Offshore Outsourcing companies.

      Obama facilitated the Offshore Outsourcing companies and he prolonged the recession. Because he believed the lies of Big Tech CEOs. I am sorry to say, he was like a Judas in this case, he took the silver, muttering to himself the lies of big tech. But we know, from the DOJ Facebook case, that Big Tech is finding 30x more qualified STEM/IT candidates than it can possibly hire.

      If Trump had another 4 years, some of those late term H-1b visas changes would have stuck, and the economy would rebound much more quickly. The Democrats are quickly painting us into a corner and it will result in another slow recovery. I will be there to point this out at every opportunity. And if somehow, Joe Biden sees the light (such as on the executive order to switch from an idiotic lottery to a salary based allocation) I will point it out as a good move.

  8. When USA corporations, especially the Big Tech Lords, entice away all the engineering talent from foreign countries, they are depriving those foreign countries of their middle class. So those foreign countries are left with a few ultra-rich and a sea of less educated and uneducated poor. Then Biden and his Far Left government taxes us middle class Americans, ignores the needs of poor Americans here, and sends our US tax money to help the destitute poor in those same foreign countries. The American middle class, including us engineers, are getting fleeced. The USA Big Tech Lords and the foreign ultra-rich are getting richer and wielding more power over Far Left government officials by exploiting this sinister vicious circle. Three steps towards a fix? Hire Americans in America, Buy American in America, and leave the foreign engineering talent in their own countries so they can support their own destititue poor with their own taxes.

  9. Dice company (DHI) has headquarters on the 29th floor of a Broadway, New York City, skyscraper. Don’t expect any Conservative American points of view about H1B and geo-politics to be allowed through by the phoq king so-called “moderator” at Dice.