What FAANG Companies Pay Their H-1B Workers

The latest quarterly results for FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) made one thing clear: big tech is only getting bigger. Right now, Apple has a market value of roughly $2.2 trillion, with Microsoft Google, and Amazon close behind ($1.9 trillion, $1.78 trillion, and $1.6 trillion, respectively).

To drive that stunning growth, these companies rely on all kinds of tech talent—and as part of that growth, they often rely on H-1B workers, either sourced directly or via outsourcing and business-services companies. But how much do they actually pay these H-1B workers? For an answer, we can turn to the H-1B Salary Database, which indexes the Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). Here’s the breakdown:

That Netflix’s H-1B salaries top this pile is no surprise. Netflix has a longtime corporate culture centered on paying absurdly high salaries to technologists—with the expectation those employees will deliver outsized performance. In a posting last year on CNBC, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explained how, during Netflix’s early days, he grew to believe that “the best programmer doesn’t add 10 times the value” but “more like a 100 times.”

Whether or not you believe in the myth of the “10x developer” (this Fast Company article is a good primer on that debate), it’s clear that Netflix is more than happy to pay a premium for talent. That aligns with the original purpose of the H-1B visa, which is supposed to be used by companies to pull in highly specialized talent from overseas that can’t be found domestically.

It’s also important to note (as we’ve pointed out before) that large tech companies, including the FAANG giants, subcontract a substantial number of H-1B workers. According to a dataset from the U.S. Department of Labor on H-1B data for full-year fiscal year 2019, for example, Apple sourced 2,274 visa workers from outside firms, while Google did the same for 889. Contracting and business-services companies generally pay their H-1B workers lower than what you find at FAANG companies, meaning there are H-1B workers at companies such as Facebook and Google who might not earn as much as their colleagues who arrived via direct application. 

18 Responses to “What FAANG Companies Pay Their H-1B Workers”

  1. Jake Leone

    Big Tech is not having any issues attracting qualified local talent. DOJ vs Facebook, Facebook admits to DOJ investigators (under threat of felony obstruction) that it find 30x more qualified local STEM/IT people than it can hire.

    Google, Apple, Microsoft are all desirable companies to work for, because they offer stable long term employment. If you go to work for startup, you will be lucky to see 6 months of work, because most companies fail.

    Big Tech can say anything it wants to the public, including the myth that they can’t find qualified workers. But in DOJ vs Facebook, Facebook employees admit that for STEM/IT jobs they post on Facebook’s own jobs website, Facebook recieves hundreds of STEM/IT resumes. Of the hundreds, Facebook employees admit that 30 or more are fully qualified for the STEM/IT position, and that Facebook would hire them, except that they have only one real job opening.
    Further, Facebook admits (DOJ vs Facebook), that the local STEM/IT workers are better qualified than the foreign workers Facebook hires under the H-1b program, and are through fraudulent and discriminatory methods, protecting from actually having to compete with these better qualified local STEM/IT workers during the Green Card process.

    Again, this information is was given to the DOJ under the penalty of Federal Obstruction of Justice charge. If you, or anyone you know, has information that contradicts this, you should contact the DOJ immediately. If you are an executive at Facebook, and have counter information, you should contact the DOJ and tender that information, for the sake of your own company.

    So far no one has.

    Salaries in the Bay Area may be high, but so has been the pre-pandemic rent. And Real Estate is still in the Stratosphere because of speculative buying. (That speculative buying will likely crash the Real Estate market in the Bay Area, and while housing prices in the B.A. will still be high compared to the rest of the country, the banks will be on the hook for billions, maybe trillions). So that 162k/yr, is nothing when a house nearby cost 1.5 million, and you are paying 75k/yr in property taxes and mortgage interest.

    When your job is outsourced to a cheaper hire in the midwest, you will be unable to sustain that mortgage.

    It is startups and small tech companies that are having a hard time finding workers. And they always will and always have.

    • Greg Pittsburgh

      I work for a large midwestern bank with a cost of living far less that the West Coast. We routinely pay $120K for top IT talent, and still have tremendous difficulty finding the people we need. We turn to consulting companies, including those with highly-qualified H1B, paying $160K by the time the company gets its cut.

      30 times the number of applicants? Maybe unqualified applicants. The problem with software development is that not everyone has the aptitude for it, so no matter what it pays, not everyone can do it successfully.

      There’s a severe shortage of qualified software developers. The US has far more than its global share of the IT industry (all 5 of the FAANG are in the US, along with others like Oracle and Microsoft). If we couldn’t import global talent, we’d have to export the jobs. In fact, that’s already happening. Tens of thousands of what could be American jobs are in Canada, because they couldn’t be filled in the US.

      • Night

        120k U.S/ vs 169k h1b is still cheaper , no insurance, 401k, stock options.

        Outsourcing Is based on cost , not talent. there is 0.0 talent from INDIA, only copy and paste.

        • PaulC

          Amen to that. And many US citizens with the qualifications in STEM are older and we all KNOW that there is ageism in hiring. The problem is no one can prove it.

      • Jake Smith

        If you’re paying 120k to top talent that’s why you can’t find any, have you tried increasing the payroll and decreasing managers and CEO bonuses?

      • jake leone

        So the DOJ vs. Facebook is online at the Department of Justice, you can go read it there.

        The information gathered in that indictment, is gathered under the threat of a criminal Obstruction of Justice charge, should there be any misinformation or lying to Federal investigators. Martha Stewart, a billionaire, was convicted and sent to jail on just such a charge.

        If you, or anyone you know, has information which contradicts the statements made by Facebook to DOJ investigators, you should contact the U.S. Department of Justice immediately. People will go to jail or will at least be scared to hell enough to recant any lie. So far no one, not even Facebook, has offered any counter-claim.

        And this case will cost Facebook 260,000,000$ US. The case states there are 2600+ fraud violations, by Facebook. The U.S. government has been routinely setting such cases for 100,000 per violations. This indictment was filed, after the election, it was not a political ploy.

        The case clearly states (to Federal investigators) that Facebook finds 30+ FULLY QUALIFIED LOCAL STEM/IT candidates for every STEM/IT job Facebook posts on Facebook’s own jobs website. That’s 30 qualified, after interviews, out of hundreds of resumes received. Faceook says (to Federal investigators) that it would hire those 29+ other candidates, if there were more STEM/IT jobs (that Americans are allowed to fill) at Facebook. But unfortunately, there is typically only one job per job ad. So the 29+ other candidates, that Facebook says it would hire (if there were jobs for Americans, and that’s critical because the DOJ case is also about discrimination against people of American nationality) if there were jobs.

        Facebook then also admits it never forwards the resumes of these qualified STEM/IT workers to the hiring managers involved in the Green Card PERM process. Facebook then also says, to Federal investigators, that the Americans are better qualified than the foreign workers Facebook is protecting from local competition in the Green Card PERM Process.

        No Sir, you are wrong. We have the data. From Facebook’s own active (and still employed at Facebook) employees. Facebook finds 30x more local STEM/IT workers than it can hire. Go read the indictment.

        Facebook lies to the press and public about a mythical worker shortage. But Facebook knew it could not lie to Federal investigators. Facebook also knew it could not retaliate against employees who told the truth to Federal investigators. Facebook was caught committing 2600+ counts of fraud and discrimination against better qualified local STEM/IT candidates, that were better qualified than the foreign workers Facebook was protecting from local competition, in order to gin up fraudulent Green Card perm process documentation.

        And there is a reason why companies don’t retaliate. Such a retaliation would result in lawsuits that would require under oath deposition and discovery. And the plaintiffs would be HR people, the people who know where the information is kept and what it contains, as they indeed did share with Federal investigators. What Facebook hopes is that by continuing to censor conservatives, the Biden administration will quietly settle the case, out of court.

        The mythical worker shortage is not a real problem with Big Tech, everyone wants to work for a Big Tech company because they need the stable long-term employment to qualify for that big Jumbo loan.

        The real problem, and you should be paying attention to this because this is what matters. The real problem is that small unstable employers are not finding enough workers, because job security is everything to a hard working engineer. Instead of hiring people on Contract (which is probably why you are having problems finding local workers) you should consider direct hiring with a severance agreement in writing. Give, in writing, someone a month of severance for every year of service, and you’ll be a desirable employer. Try that first before employers are allowed to beg for indentured workers from the government, thereby being allowed to bypass the Capitalist Free Labor market of the United States.

        Engineers are the hardest working employees in tech. They already have gone through rigorous study to get to where they are. Face it, Engineers love to work, you know it, I know it, I have seen it my entire career. The real lazy people, are the one’s that drop out of engineering and enter management or sales. Those people don’t want to work, they want to tell people what to do then go visit the golf course. Those same types then invent a vicious mythology, in order get the government to hand them an indentured workforce, so they can avoid the capitalist labor market (Silicon Valley no poaching scandal).

        That’s the real problem, right there, and American Tech needs to face up to it. The data in the DOJ indictment shows this is what is occurring, and you can’t cover that up anymore. And if you have an real data you should send it to the Federal investigators at the DOJ.

        Facebook has a huge HR problem, many new companies have these kinds of problems. Facebook failed to hire Brian Acton, an experienced Web programmer. Facebook then later paid Brian billions of dollars to buy-up the potential Facebook killer What’s App. Americans are discriminated against by employers, and we have the data to prove it, just read the DOJ Indictment. It’s free, it’s online, educate yourselves on the facts, you have no excuse not to read it.

        • PAUL CONNORS

          Thank you for posting this. It needed to be said and both the government and BIG TECH are complicit in continuing to spread lies about qualified personnel shortages.

          I believe ALL H1B visas should be halted and those holding them deported. I also believe we need to revoke birthright citizenship as most other developed nations DO NOT have that type of citizenship qualification. Why is it “racist” for the US to suggest ending it when the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to name a few require a “tie” to the country through patrilineal or matrilineal descent to obtain FULL citizenship?

      • Milly

        The problem is, the same skill level and background can exist for both an American and an H1b developer, but the H1b will generally have a very puffed up resume and claim competency at a far higher level than is true. Yet the H1b developer get hired and then spends a huge amount of time on the phone and in chats with others and fakes the skill on the job. The American is much more honest – I’ve found that the idea that ‘it isn’t a lie unless it’s found out’ is very common with the H1b developers.

  2. The obvious next step is that these IT companies will continue hiring more H1Bs. Productivity is at its highest ever, revenues skyrocketing, prestige of these companies doesn’t get harmed for hiring H1Bs and IT unemployment is lower than ever. It would be stupid not to hire more foreign talent.

    • jake_leone

      You know Andy, you are right, tech companies are making extraordinary profits. But that is the nature of Capitalism, one quarter other quarters down.

      The reality is the Big Tech finds 30x more people than it can hire, again read the DOJ vs Facebook indictment, will ya.

      Here’s the problem, the H-1b visa is a U.S. government program, it isn’t Free Market Capitalism. It used to be, a person came into the country, they had their full rights and were not tied to an employer. They could work where ever they wanted. AKA a Free Market.

      H-1b changes that, now the employee must request that the employer take on their H-1b visa, this hampers the free market. Further, if the worker starts the Green Card process, they might wait decades until they actually receive it. All the while, they are stuck at the employer who started the process. That subverts the Free Labor market.

      The best way to handle this is put the H-1b and Green Card process in the hands of the foreign worker, not the employer. Do just that, and many business models that require a tied down worker, will disappear. And those H-1b visas will be freed up to be used by employers that actually respect a workers civil rights (specifically the 13th amendment).

      I would say also we need to fix up the Green Card process, so that people can’t game the PERM process, and infinite number of times (2 retries per 10 years, that would be enough, after that hire the qualified local candidate). The foreign worker should then be freed up to try the PERM process with another employer.

      We also need a tax advantaged apprentice program for local candidates that has the same tax advantaged as the OPT program. I can tell you, I have been a programmer for 30 years now, and if not for starting jobs, I would not be a programmer. It takes about 2-years of study to become a proficient coder.

  3. Per 30+ years of IT experience both as permanent & consulting roles in many companies, I can also attest to a few H1B IT workers being more of a hindrance than help (no matter how much coaching they’re given). This opposed to US citizens being held to much higher standards – fired without hesitation if they cannot meet those standards – with considerably less coaching at the same company & same/similar jobs. There are definitely double standards- in favor of H1B candidates/employees.

    My “take” on the common issues boils down to what companies “expect/demand/list” as skill requirements for jobs. Most are huge laundry lists that few can honesty meet. Many encompass little known/oddball skills that surely seem to be designed to disqualify otherwise eligible candidates- despite the fact learning those new skills on the job is rarely very difficult.

    I wholeheartedly believe US companies leverage this “technique” as an excuse to hire H1B workers. Given a chance, US IT workers can overcome any/all “shortcomings” in their skill sets on-the-job, via mentoring &/or taking training (after work if necessay). They’re constantly doing so every day (few things stay the same in IT for very long). Responsible employers know that & assist with at least some level of tuition reimbursement. A few will do in-house training to accomplish drastic new technology changes – though often only if they can’t hire enough with the new skills. Many existing employees get left behind – dealing with the old systems until the transition occurs – only to be used up & tossed to the curb afterward – despite promises to the contrary that get “lost” in a sea of new times, management personnel. or just plain lies…

    If US IT workers are ever to to get a fair shot at best paying & challenging jobs they desire & deserve, this H1B excuse pandering needs to STOP! Minimally, H1B workers should be used to supplement & train US workers vs replace them – thus limit the need.

    Hopefully President Biden’s new plans to better educate US citizens will go a long way towards accomplishing this.

    However. I fear the current US Corporate lack of commitment to quality & R&D, as well as blatant ignorance of saving pennies while wasting dollars & ruining reputations does not bode well to anything too productive happening in short order. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong…

    • jake_leone

      Temporary worker programs have been used by career politicians as a way to garner campaign contributions from business groups and wealthy donors. Hope won’t change that, only calling it out at every opportunity is the way to go. This will make it a difficult poison pill for politicians to swallow, for the sake of campaign contributions.

      Biden’s rescinding of Trump’s change to a salary based allocation of H-1b visas, is just one example. Biden could have implemented this, now. 2 Senators Charles Grassely (Republican) and Richard Durbin (Democrat) wrote to Biden and asked him to implement the change.

      Instead the change was put into on omnibus immigration bill, where like all amendments it can be removed at anytime, should someone be willing to pay for such a removal.

      The main beneficiaries of the idiotic random chance lottery for H-1b visas are the Offshore Outsourcing companies. Big Tech has big contracts with those same Offshore Outsourcing companies. Big Tech doesn’t really care about the H-1b visa. Literally, Big stable Tech companies are finding 30x more local STEM/IT people than they can hire (DOJ vs. Facebook). Mathematically, there is always a 1 in 4 chance a Silicon Valley company can win an H-1b visa. But if not, then there is a 100% chance they can bring some local worker in on a contract job, then fire them when they **Win** that H-1b visa.

      The reliable play, for Big Tech, is to ensure that Offshore Outsourcing companies continue to **Win** half the H-1b visas, so that Big Tech and rest of American business can outsource HR, Accounting, customer support, DB Maintenance, remote system support… for far less than having to pay American workers to do this already well defined and scripted work.

      There is so much talk about salaries. When Big Tech companies are earning 650k/yr per employee, we have to ask, how much does an engineer add to the bottom line? That 650k/yr is an average. An engineer, literally can add millions of dollars per year to the bottom line. Why are not salaries adjusted to meet this?

      It’s simply, Big Tech doesn’t want to actually deal with Free Market Capitalism. We can see this in the Email exchange between Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs. A female recruiter successfully recruited an Apple engineer to Google. Steve Jobs wrote Eric Schmidt about their “Agreement”, and the female recruiter was fired. Later Eric Schmidt asks the other conspirators to go verbal only, to avoid a prosecutable Email exchange. They knew they were breaking the law, they knew they didn’t want to pay engineers what they are actually worth in the free market.

      These Tech CEOs see the H-1b visa as a way to bring in indentured workers, so they don’t have to deal with free market labor. Giving half the H-1b visas away to Offshore Outsourcing companies ensures that they will continue to have a supply of labor that doesn’t have its full 13th amendment rights. Offshore Outsourcing companies don’t sponsor people for Green Cards or citizenship.

      If more than half the H-1b visas are going to Offshore Outsourcing companies that don’t sponsor people for citizenship or Green Cards. You can’t call the H-1b program a pro-immigrant Federal Government program. The H-1b is, LITERALLY, an Anti-Immigrant U.S. Federal Government program. The last thing Big Tech needs is workers with full bargaining rights, and they were willing to spend 100 million dollars last year make sure that status quo is locked in under Joe Biden.

      A switch to a salary based allocation of H-1b visas, would make more U.S. citizens (probably Republican, as many engineers are quite conservative), as the Offshore Outsourcing companies would lose their “undercut the market” business strategy on day-1 if such a change were allowed to be implemented.

      • Milly

        I am waiting for the day when there is a ‘leak’ or a ‘tell-all’ book on the inner workings of the Biden White House that explains exactly why Biden didn’t ban flights from India in April as soon as other countries. I fully expect the reason being the need to appease their campaign contributors – there was a bit of a backup because Trump had put a hold on H1bs that expired at the end of March so Bidens’ corporate sponsors were getting anxious.

        • jake_leone

          Yes, I just confirmed what you are saying (on liberal news services). Why so slow? At this point, the reaction of our government has to be immediate and not politically (or monetarily) motivated.

          I don’t think Biden is capable of such action. Seems like everything he does has to go through the campaign donors first, and that is just insane right now.

          India is really getting hit hard. And I wonder if it is just a lack of a strong middle class, and really low standard of living? I have been buying masks for years (they used to be very cheap, even medical grade N95s), because a family member is immune compromised. (When Covid first hit, and before masks became mandated several Asian people thought I was dissing them by wearing a mask, everything was cool once I explained my situation). But before covid hit, several Asian people actually complemented me for wearing a mask, and we would discuss the study they did in Japan on mask wearing (it isn’t perfect, it can prevent about 80% of infections).

          And this disease is in no way a racial thing. It is strictly a problem caused by poor handling of the situation. Meat markets need to get cleaned up world wide. Maybe military sites need inspection.

          And BTW, I haven’t had a cold for 5 years (while wearing a mask), for me that is important because I am really susceptible to colds. I think if/when I do catch a cold, it is going to be bad.

          This points out that countries need to cut the corruption and work on the problems.

  4. H1B is a mixed bag. It started off being about a way to save a ton of money. But that is not what it is about anymore. Now it is a part of the “diversity is our strength” proposition to sell a company to young non-tech hotties. It is pretty sad; this is why I only do niche contracting. There’s no way I’d ever go W2 with the Facebook Amazon Google crowd.

  5. Tehcpro2

    Pertinent question is how the local talent become US citizen and greencard holders? By birth or marriage or asylum or refugee or country quota or diversity lottery? All those benefited from liberal immigration policies and didn’t have to go thru labor certification process like H1b or greencard process. Those lucky local talent don’t want competition and creating barriers to others. You don’t own any job in capitalism.

    • Jake_Leone

      Capitalism begins and ends at the border. Between nations, trade is heavily regulated, tariffed, blocked, and restricted. Within the United States trade between states is opened up by the U.S. Constitution. But a lot of goods are still controlled, marijuana and alcohol, for example and to name just a few. You can’t parole your prisoners to the state line, without a prior agreement, for example.

      But between countries, that’s not Capitalism, that’s treaty, tax laws, tariffs, and the laws of other nations that control the movement of people and goods. And it isn’t racist to have such laws. I can’t own property in many countries because I don’t have local citizenship. I can’t work in most countries, either because it is forbidden or because I will need to qualify and then jump through the local hoops to get work permit.

      But on that, the DOJ vs Facebook case shows us, that it is in fact foreign workers that are being protected from local competition for jobs here in the United States. In that indictment, over just a 1.5 year period, Facebook protected 2600+ foreign workers from having to compete with better qualified (by Facebook’s own admission to Federal investigators) local U.S. based talent.

      And the reason is because foreign workers do not have their full 13th amendment right to leave their job at any time. If a foreign worker leaves during the Green Card process, they have to start the Green Card process all over again and/or go to the back of the line in a huge Green Card wait.

      With regard to the H-1b visa. Most, more than half, of the H-1b visas are taken up by Offshore Outsourcing companies. Offshore Outsourcing companies don’t sponsor people for Green Cards. This effectively makes the H-1b program, an Anti-immigrant program. I’d say, we need to be talking about reform of the H-1b program, for the good of foreign and domestic workers here in the United States.