Photo: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan
Being a foreign worker in the U.S. on an H-1B visa has gotten more lucrative.
That’s according to new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data. If you overcome the hoops of immigration to work in the U.S. on this visa, you could earn an average salary of $80,000, a salary that’s up from about $69,000 10 years ago.
According to Pew Research Center’s analysis of the government data, there’s been a spike in the demand for highly skilled foreign workers on these visas: There were 399,349 H-1B visa applications in 2016, up from 246,126 in 2009.
H-1B visas are given to foreign workers with “highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.” The employers that were filing the most applications came from information technology outsourcing companies, with Cognizant Tech Solutions, an IT consulting company getting 21,459 applications approved in 2016, the most out of any company.
Facebook pays the most to employees who hold H-1B visas
But demand doesn’t necessarily correlate with pay.
The companies that were applying for the most H-1B visas weren’t giving these workers the highest salaries. The highest-paid H-1B visa workers came from tech giants, who weren’t submitting as many applications but were paying the workers that got approved higher salaries than the companies filing for more visas.
Of the top 30 companies that were filing for H-1B visas, Facebook pays these workers the most, with an average salary of $140,758. Apple and Google were the paying the second- and third-highest average salaries at $138,563 and $131,882, respectively.
This is the first time the U.S. has publicly disclosed this data. In previous years, the information was obtained through Freedom of Information Acts.
A 2017 paper found that H-1B visas led to $431 million net gains for U.S. workers in 2010. The future of the program is unclear under President Donald Trump. In April, the President signed a “Buy American and Hire American” executive order that mandated federal authorities to “suggest reforms” to the program “as soon as practicable.”