Smaller Tech Companies Pay H-1B Workers More Than Big Tech

When it comes to the H-1B and the tech industry, much of the discussion tends to focus on how the largest and most-established tech companies use the visa. However, examining smaller companies’ relationship with the H-1B can yield additional insights.

For data on H-1B filings and average H-1B salaries by company, we can turn to the H-1B Salary Database, which indexes Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). For the purposes of this analysis, we exclude all of the companies in non-tech industries, such as medicine. Here’s the resulting list:

As we’ve noted before, it’s not surprising that Netflix tops the list, considering its history of paying all employees high salaries (the theory is that extraordinary skills are worth extraordinary compensation—but if you don’t deliver, you’re handed an extraordinary severance package). But the other companies paying H-1B workers the highest salaries aren’t the largest or most prominent ones in tech—Roku, TikTok, and Reddit, for example, all pay far more on average than Apple, Microsoft, Google, or Salesforce.

Meanwhile, some of tech’s largest companies file for many thousands of visas every year—and those are only direct filings. Big tech firms tend to subcontract H-1B workers from subcontracting and business-services companies, which one of the reasons why the latter file for so many visas every year. Although the Trump administration took several steps to make it more problematic for companies to subcontract H-1B workers, it seems unlikely that the practice will end anytime soon. 

Critics of the H-1B system might look at a list like this and say it proves their point: smaller companies tend to use the visa to gain the highly specialized talent they need, whereas larger ones rely on it to secure software developers and other roles at a cheaper rate. Companies like Microsoft, meanwhile, argue that they’re obeying the visa’s original intent—but given their size, it’s inevitable they would apply for thousands of visas every year to meet their diverse project needs. 

4 Responses to “Smaller Tech Companies Pay H-1B Workers More Than Big Tech”

  1. jake_leone

    And hence the reason why Big Tech gave the Biden campaign 100 million dollars. It was given with the promise to get rid of the Trump change to a salary based allocation of H-1b visas. Apparently, Big Tech (for whatever backward, selfish, and insane reason) would rather keep the Brain Dead lottery allocation of H-1b visas.

    Big Tech does not want to (and apparently will not because of a lack of will in the Board Room) compete with smaller tech companies for H-1b visas. Big Tech would rather do the same application stacking that the Offshore Outsourcing companies do. All in order to avoid paying higher salaries. And this further points to likely reason that Big Tech is using the H-1b system, not as part of a way to find the best and brightest. Rather, Big Tech uses the H-1b system as a way to transfer workers from their foreign offices to the United States, without having to ever look locally for a qualified worker.

    This is amplified during the phony Green Card PERM process that Big Tech uses to protect these foreign workers from the better qualified local STEM/IT workers (By Facebook’s own admission to Federal Investigators).

    BTW, I calculated Facebook’s H-1b usage over the last 10 years to be around 18000, based upon the massive case of 2600+ Fake PERM applications of just a 1.5 year period. Interesting how those numbers are in relatively close agreement with your H-1b numbers for Facebook.

  2. H/L Visa program is fraud with easy money to Indians. It has big network. So sad that they are controlling the US laws with their network.Most of the Indian companies pay 80% of the billing to visa holders so they might made more money in some places.
    Most of the companies from India are women based on paper to get clients (in reality no woman sit in their office). They certify as national minority and woman owned and grab all sorts of clients including federal. Then starts internal bribing (if possible).
    Same indians don’t let outside people to do business or get jobs in India but they take over US jobs.
    If US continues family chain citizenship and green card-citizenship, no surprise if corruption enters in every goverment deparment in the US similar to India.
    All these can be fixed, firstly let USCIS not dependent on visa fees.