Editor’s note: Kiran Dhillon is a senior editor for FindTheBest, where she tackles big datasets to produce interesting insights.
Legislative debate regarding expanding the H-1B visa program is heating up in the U.S. Senate. H-1B visas allow foreign workers — specifically those in technical roles—to legally work in the United States. In lobbying for an expansion of the current H-1B visa program, Google executive Eric Schmidt said, “We take very, very smart people, bring them into the country, give them a diploma and kick them out where they go on to create companies that compete with us.”
Amid this discussion, jobs at Google, Facebook and other tech giants have grown increasingly lucrative for Americans and foreigners alike.
An analysis of records from the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) reveals that the median salary offered to H-1B applicants by some of the biggest tech companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — is well over $100K and continues to rise.
Facebook has been the most lucrative company for H-1B visa holders thus far in 2015 (of the five companies above), with a median salary of $135K across all positions. But how do the companies stack up for specific roles?
By examining the most common professions among H-1B applicants for Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, five consistent career paths emerged across each company. Software engineers, systems software engineers, financial analysts, computer systems analysts and marketing managers make up a large part of H-1B visa applications.
Salaries for software engineers largely echo the overall trends, with Facebook offering the highest median salary and Amazon paying the lowest.
For financial analysts, we see the biggest outlier among all five job types, with Facebook’s median H-1B salary 46 percent higher than the next highest median salary (Microsoft).
Meanwhile, median H-1B salaries for computer systems analysts cover a much smaller range, with the most generous company (Google) paying only $23,100 more than the least generous (Amazon). The computer systems analyst role is also notable for being the only job for which Facebook is among the bottom two for foreign worker pay.
Foreign systems software engineers may want to avoid Microsoft, where we find our second biggest outlier. Microsoft pays these H-1B employees a median salary of just $82,828, 27 percent less than the next lowest paying company (Amazon).
For marketing managers, Microsoft once again places last, but the difference here is not quite as extreme as with computer systems analysts. Microsoft simply pays a median rate of 10 percent less than Amazon and Apple.
Finally, how do these companies stack up to other H-1B employers?
According to 2014’s salary distribution, they’re among the highest-paying, but certainly not the highest of all. About 7,000 H-1B applicants last year were offered salaries upwards of $200K.
You can see the distribution of H-1B salaries across all U.S. companies below.
Note: All data cited in this piece represents median salary information from H-1B visa Labor Condition Applications (LCAs). H-1B visa LCAs should not be confused with granted H-1Bs. After an LCA is approved, the company can enter their applicants into the H-1B visa lottery. Statistics on granted H-1B visas are not available through the OFLC.