U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more than 300,000 H-1B registrations for fiscal year 2022, suggesting that businesses are recovering from the pandemic and looking for talent. But which companies are willing to pay the most for H-1B workers, and for which jobs?
For answers, 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). Searching the database for the top-paying H-1B job at some of the nation’s largest tech companies is straightforward:
First thing to note: According to this same database, the median salary for a software developer on an H-1B visa currently stands at $93,558, based on data from 1,291 employers in 742 cities. The above salaries are a healthy multiple of that, suggesting that these workers are indeed highly specialized.
Second, it’s surprising that Netflix’s top H-1B salary is so low compared to the other companies on this list. Netflix has a reputation for paying ludicrously outsized salaries for talent, on the theory that employees worth an insane sum will deliver an insane amount of value (or receive a very nice severance package on their way out the door). Crowdsourced compensation numbers from levels.fyi suggest that Netflix’s software engineers can make nearly half a million dollars per year.
Third, that a marketing director would be Apple’s highest-paid H-1B worker might strike some as a bit odd. It’s slightly reminiscent of when Facebook paid $656,000 for an H-1B applicant to serve as its vice president of global affairs and communications, a role requiring skills that any company should have no problem sourcing domestically. But Facebook could have argued that the person who took that role was Nick Clegg, the former British deputy prime minister, who had skills and connections likely difficult to find anywhere else; for Apple, it’s a bit harder to see why they’d need an H-1B to source a marketing director, but perhaps it’s for something so highly specialized that the company literally couldn’t find the right candidate within the U.S.
The number of H-1B applicants has risen steady since 2014, despite the visa’s annual cap remaining largely unchanged for the past 17 years, according to The New York Times’ recent breakdown of USCIS data. Since the visa’s inception, its critics have argued that companies routinely use it to bring in overseas workers at lower wages; advocates, meanwhile, insist that the majority of companies really do rely on the visa to source specialized talent they can find nowhere else.