H-1B Visa Salaries Are on the Rise: What That Means for Employers and Foreign Workers

Much of the controversy surrounding foreign workers is based on the idea that it’s used to displace American workers with “cheaper” labor. This theory contends that employers will hire out jobs to foreigners willing to take less money, thus increasing the unemployment rates in the US. In reality, studies show that the H-1B visa program brings skilled labor to the country through workers who are paid better than the average American, as these workers are educated and enter professional fields where their fellow workers are paid well. In fact, H-1B visa salaries are on the rise, meaning the argument against “cheap labor” no longer holds water. What does this mean for employers and H-1B employees? We’ll explain here.

Why H-1B Visa Holders Make Six Figures

Unlike the myths that have foreign workers taking over half of the American workforce, the reality is that the number of visas allowed is strictly limited. Obtaining those coveted visas is challenging, too. Depending on the type of category the applicant petitions for, it can take years before a visa is approved. Those who receive permission to submit an application must meet rigid criteria, including, in visas like the H-1B, education and work experience.

Because only those with bachelor’s degrees or higher (or comparable foreign equivalents) can apply for an H-1B visa, it’s natural that those workers receive higher salaries than the average employee with less education. Employers who sponsor these skilled individuals spend a lot of money to do so, expecting the return on their investment to be worth the expense. This makes it more common to see H-1B visa holders in fields like STEM work, healthcare, education, and legal industries, where the pay is naturally higher.

Part of the requirement for job sponsors is to meet or exceed the average pay in the industry within the geographic location, as set by the Department of Labor. The median annual salary for H-1B visa holders in computer fields was over $123,000 in 2022. This was an increase of 26% over the years from 2018 to 2022, staying consistent with the average salary rise for the field of 23%.

With these numbers and other data backing up the H-1B visa program, it’s easy to dispel the myths about unskilled workers holding most of the visas and taking jobs for less pay than US citizens.

The Laws Regarding Pay

Many people don’t realize that employers offering jobs to an H-1B visa holder can’t arbitrarily choose the salary they wish to pay. Instead, employers must pay the actual wage level (or more) that they provide to other employees with similar qualifications and experience or the prevailing wage for the occupational classification in that area — whichever is greater.

Hiring foreign workers is an expensive decision that employers don’t make randomly. To follow the law, they must pay these workers a high salary, often hire recruiters to look for qualified US help, pay tens of thousands of dollars in petitioning and lawyer fees, and deal with the government’s scrutiny, paperwork, and strict requirements during the time they have an H-1B employee on the payroll.

Transferring Jobs Under an H-1B Visa

Another argument regarding foreign labor is that employers hire visa holders, who are then “stuck” with unfavorable working conditions. The reality behind this is that H-1B beneficiaries may leave their jobs at any time, provided they have another qualified employer willing to sponsor them. 

Visa holders in the H-1B categories are highly skilled and highly educated. If they’re unhappy in their place of employment, it isn’t too difficult for many of them to network while in the country and find another job offer.

In fact, it’s typical for those hired under an H-1B visa to have met their job sponsors while in the US as an international student. Forty-four percent of applicants who were approved for H-1B petition transfers or initial visas in 2022 had previously been F-1 status individuals who had impressed employers with their skills, knowledge, and work ethic while in America.

What’s Next?

As H-1B salaries continue to rise, those employers willing to sponsor beneficiaries for this visa must remain competitive and willing to pay the greater prevailing wages. Doing so ensures that not only will your petition have a better likelihood of approval, but you’ll also attract the top talent in the field from all over the world.

However, you don’t want to waste your investment by filing the paperwork late or wrong, missing information, or otherwise having your petition denied. Countless employers turn to legal immigration experts like our professionals at Visa2US to ensure they have an optimal chance of getting their petitions approved.

At Visa2US, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you navigate the changing immigration laws, such as increases in wages and strict requirements. If you’re trying to find a job as an H-1B worker, we’ll guide your steps and ensure you are making the salary you’re entitled to, as well. Contact us today to see how we can take the hard work out of the H-1B visa process for you.

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.