How Much Do Software Developers on the H-1B Visa Make?

How does the “average” software developer salary match up against its H-1B equivalent? With companies ramping up hiring, and the Biden administration removing many of the Trump administration’s restrictions on the H-1B visa, that’s a question worth asking. 

According to the H-1B Salary Database, which indexes the Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the median salary for a software developer on an H-1B visa currently stands at $93,558. That’s based on data from 1,291 employers in 742 cities. Within many of the nation’s biggest tech hubs, that salary is notably higher, as you can see from the following chart:

It’s interesting to note that, in Austin and Atlanta (as well as many other, smaller cities), the local salary for H-1B software developers is actually lower than the national median. In well-established hubs such as San Jose and San Francisco, it’s radically higher. 

That’s not the whole story, of course. While FAANG giants and larger tech companies may also pay H-1B workers quite a bit, business-services and consulting firms tend to pay those on the visa a lot lower—and then subcontract their services to other companies. 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, which can obscure what software developers on the visa are truly getting paid as a group.

According to the latest Dice Salary Report, meanwhile, the average technologist made $97,859 in 2020 (an increase of 3.6 percent from 2019). Software developers made substantially more than that, earning an average of $111,297. In other words, software developers as a whole made more than the average software developer on an H-1B. But as we’ve dug into before, software engineers, data scientists and other highly skilled roles easily pull down six-figure salaries for H-1B applicants.  

12 Responses to “How Much Do Software Developers on the H-1B Visa Make?”

  1. jake_leone

    The average is what you would pay for an average developer (at best). People who are critical to the U.S. economy are those that have either a large amount of domain knowledge or have some other knowledge in the software development area that is exceptional.

    And face it, top talent should be paid well above the average salary. That means something in the 160k on up range.

    We need the “Best” (the “Brightest” means nothing without experience or significant domain knowledge).

    The DOJ vs Facebook cases lets us know the “top-secret” information that Facebook and the rest of Big Tech are finding 30x more qualified candidates than they can hire. Small, unstable, companies are the ones that have issues finding candidates, and they always have, and they always will. No one wants to work 24×7 for 3 months at a startup and then to be laid off. Then to be laid off, with zero references (because the company does not exist). Then to also have to explain why they only worked for 3 months at a company?

    Big Tech companies are bald face lying to the press and the public about a Tech/STEM/IT worker shortage, there is no such shortage. DOJ vs Facebook shows that Facebook (and other similarly well to do companies) are not having issues finding qualified workers.

    To better the U.S. economy, for the betterment of all Americans, we should raise the salary bar to help ensure we are getting the “Best” and the “Intelligently-Experienced”, to a around 160k. Further we should implement the salary based allocation of H-1b visas.

    Right now, we are only getting average workers, who have but one skill, copy existing business processes and ship the departments and jobs overseas. This will give us another record slow recovery, like we had under Obama. And that cost Hillary Clinton the election,

    Fix that one thing President Joe Biden, by simply not rescinding President Trump’s executive order to base H-1b allocations based upon salary. Swallow your pride and angst for the good of the country, not your ego and bragging rights. And you will ensure future Democratic presidencies. Fail to learn from history, recent history under Obama. And you will repeat the same mistakes of the Obama administration, and your Democratic candidates will suffer for it. But more importantly, so will the rest of the country, for decades to come.

    • Jake you are absolutely right there is not, nor has there ever been a shortage of Tech/STEM/IT trained people in this country, in the Tech industry. This also true in the pharmaceutical industry. This about getting mediocre talent from places like India for a low wages. The myth of the need for H1b started by Cara (Carly) Fiorina in the early 2000 was embraced by big tech and pharma.

      • Nancy Aronson

        I agree that there’s no shortage of talent. I am an experienced developer/problem solver and US citizen who was having trouble finding a position that was paying a decent amount (it didn’t help that there was a pandemic going on). Companies want to pay so low, which is the real reason they can’t find good developers.

        • This came up on another web site this week: pay has been sliding. I was recently going through a carton that had some old office supplies and ran across a hardly-used spiral notebook that contained a few pages of notes taken during phone conversations with recruiters back in the mid-90s (hardly-used because, fortunately, I landed a long-term position shortly after taking those notes). The salaries I had written down 25 years ago seem to be the target for companies looking for skilled employees *today*. All while asking for far more experience and skills than was required back then. There’s the real shortage right there: while employees’ expenses increase and salaries decrease, employers complain that they can’t seem to find people to work for the salaries they offered 2-3 decades ago.

  2. LCA wages and actual W2 ( including cash paid as relocation, travel, training etc to avoid tax) amounts varies a lot for sure. Employees squeezes 80% of bill rate from almost all small businesses who are h1b dependent employers or those who run staffing business as a secondary income. But the world thinks H1B salaries are very low and Citizens make a lot which is absolutely wrong in reality.

  3. I just did a interview today for a company, they had more than 300 applicants for the positions, so they are interviewing 30 from the 300 people for 2 positions. I still don’t get where is the need for H1B visas. Every single position that I apply is like that, I’m scare for the people that just graduate and they are searching for a job, every single college sell this idea that they will have a lot of offers of 200k after they complete the course, but the reality is very ugly. Come here and study IT you will find a great job that is the biggest scam of our times.

  4. I do not see enough jobs in my area that warrant the need for H1B holders. Using H1B holders is just a way for a company to avoid paying a fair wage and benefits and they wonder why employees are not loyal to them.

  5. WOW!!!, what an investigation here, companies are paying a fair wage, while getting top talent!. This is something obvious and logical for most companies, they are having historical revenues, high productivity and prestige is not harmed. It would be stupid not to hire more H1B workers.

    On the other hand, good developers in foreign countries come to the US and make average salaries, is a trade that anyone would want, of course having a salary in dollars is much more atractive than pesos or rupias. At the same time, legislation and DOL force companies to pay only the prevailing wage.

    Good business for America!

  6. Bad business for America! The corporations are not the citizens who are America. Citizens United and all other decisions that gave power to the corporations must be overturned. The unnecessary H1-B visas damage employment for citizens: wage suppression, unemployment, lack of upward economic mobility for the underprivileged and graduates. A Big Scam by corporations to hire cheap labor. NumbersUSA has information about this issue and petitions to send/phone calls you can make to your representatives. This is an issue that affects us all, make your voice heard and demand change!

  7. @ITW: “lack of upward economic mobility for the underprivileged”? May be you need to focus on the white Catholic politicians who offered US citizenship to 45 million Catholic illegals (Mexico/El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras) over the past 35 years, since the first Catholic amnesty in 1986. Biden has promised he will offer amnesty to an additional 11 million Catholic illegals (he is a liar, the actual number is 30 million). Biden just met with 5 of the 2.3 million Catholic DACA illegals in the white house today. H-1B is miniscule when compared to these numbers — 85,000/year with no guarantee of green card/citizenship. May be US can put up a sign: Only Catholic illegals are allowed to enter the US and to take away jobs from US; they will be rewarded for their illegality with US Citizenship.

    Rule of law, separation of the Church and the state, and equal treatment under the constitution. Oh, wait, these are the ideals of the Protestants who founded this country based on these principles. Why would Catholics follow the founding ideals of this country? Their only goal is to make the US a Catholic-majority country and a one-party state: Catholic/Democrat/Blue, that is California*50.

    • jake_leone

      That’s bigoted rant. We have a porous border and a southern neighbor that has massive corruption caused by massive poverty. We are going to have to suck up and build a wall, but we can’t ignore those that are here, we can give them a chance to become citizens, if they refuse then deport them.

      Mexico needs to start allowing direct foreign investment and land ownership. Just doing that will raise the value of the Peso, and create a business lobby in that country that will need to stem corruption. But they never will, because they think they can do it all on their own, which has been their mistake for centuries.

      The main problem with immigration is the limbo state where workers don’t have full rights. Another problem is the burden on local housing and jobs. The latter, will resolve itself eventually, if you stem the flow. The former apparently requires some campaign dollars, and there are numerous employer group who actually (though they will never publicly admit this) like workers with fewer rights than other Americans.

      And that’s a massive problem with the U.S., in politics (unless you have a financially independent candidate such as Trump), everything (including your job) is for sale.

      While I am not in favor of amnesty, I do believe we need to give a chance for people who have stayed clean, worked hard, and have been here 10 years or more and intend to be here the rest of their lives. And we need to give them that chance because we can’t have a permanent class, made into an underclass, because they don’t have rights. Like the right to tell your employer you intend to leave even if finding a new job takes time. So long as they are willing to assume the same citizen risks as all american citizens do (jury duty, the draft, going to Federal Prison, … No easy escape to their home country if they do something criminal).

      It’s up to us to give good reasons for reforming the immigration system. We have to have good reasons for having a border wall (such as getting young Americans into jobs). Saying stuff like its a Catholic thing, or Democrat thing, is lunacy. Antonin Scalia was Republican and a devout Catholic, so there.