If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager in the tech space, dealing with H-1B visa petitions is potentially part of your job. And if you deal with H-1B visas, you know that the program is in the midst of a great deal of uncertainty at the moment, pending the results of a federal review.
Earlier this year, President Trump issued an executive order tasking the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and State with reviewing current H-1B policy. During an April event in Wisconsin, Trump said that such visas should be given to “the most skilled and highly paid applicants, and they should never be used to replace Americans.” As part of that “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans on engaging in a number of “listening sessions” with employers and workers.
For those firms that deal with H-1B visas, there’s also the question of salary—and as it turns out, those who hold the visa can get paid quite a bit. According to new data from USCIS, H-1B holders at Apple earn an average annual salary of $139,000. That places the tech behemoth slightly ahead of Google, where those with the visa make an average of $132,000, and Microsoft, where they can pull down $126,000.
Cisco ($121,000) and Amazon ($115,000) round out the top five on this list of highest-paying H-1B sponsors. That’s significantly higher than the average salary for all visas issued in 2016, which was $91,000.
But tech firms weren’t the companies with the most H-1B visa petitions approved by the Department of Homeland Security. In 2016, business consultancy firms such as Cognizant, Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, and Accenture racked up the most successful petitions. (It’s worth noting that those consultancy firms also paid out far lower salaries to their H-1B visa holders than the major tech companies.)
Trump’s executive order isn’t the first time that the federal government has attempted to adjust the H-1B system. U.S. Senate bill 2266, for example, tried to prioritize H-1B distribution by applicants’ skills, degrees, proposed wages, and so on; that bill hasn’t moved since its introduction in late 2015. Other bills have attempted to restrict the ability of applicants to displace those currently employed. In any case, widespread changes to current legislation have remained elusive.
Many tech companies insist that capping the H-1B program won’t resolve some longstanding issues with sourcing tech talent. “While a blanket reduction in foreign workers seems popular on the surface, it does not address the core issue facing the U.S. today, we do not have enough technology workers and things are only going to get worse,” Joe Vacca, CMO of talent-development firm Revature, wrote in an emailed statement to Dice earlier this year. “Universities cannot adjust to the rapid changes that are occurring in technology, the private sector must bridge that gap and train the next generation of U.S. technology workers.”
Whether or not the federal government eventually pushes some sort of reform, tech firms will continue to petition for H-1B visas. For recruiters and hiring managers, knowing how much those visa holders earn is potentially a valuable piece of data.