As promised, the Trump administration has begun revealing the names of contractors that utilize H-1B workers. In addition, a new Department of Labor dataset gives us some granular insight into the average H-1B salary.
This is a very big deal. Although the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hosts an interactive H-1B Employer Data Hub that makes it easy for anyone to look up which employers are relying on foreign workers with specialized knowledge, it’s been much harder to determine if and where those companies are sending their H-1B workers as subcontractors, much less the average H-1B salary for particular roles.
That’s all changed, thanks to some new tweaks to how the government reports data (big hat tip to Laura Francis and Bloomberg Law for first noticing this). If you’re interested, you can now head over to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website and download a massive (over 100MB!) dataset of H-1B data for fiscal year 2019 (it’s under the ‘Disclosure data’ tab). Not only does this spreadsheet contain a detailed breakdown of over 412,425 H-1B cases, but it also reveals the “secondary entities” where primary employers might send H-1B workers, along with average H-1B salary for, well, pretty much everybody. (There's also an extremely granular listing of which zip codes have the most H-1B applications, and we bet you won't guess the top city on that list.)
For example, Amazon isn’t just a primary employer of H-1B workers (with 5,558 cases currently listed on this disclosure); it also contracts out H-1B workers from other firms (93 cases).
This latest disclosure system has been in the works since late 2018, when the Department of Labor announced that it would require all employers applying for H-1B visas to name companies where H-1B workers might end up as contractors. Specifically, DOL’s Form ETA-9035 & 9035E (PDF) asks that employers cite whether workers “will be placed with a secondary entity at this place of employment.” If the answer is “yes,” the employer must provide the legal business name of the “secondary entity,” along with the wage rate it pays nonimmigrant workers, and the prevailing wage rate.
At the time, some employers (and the attorneys who help shepherd H-1B applicants through the system) took serious issue with the Trump administration’s move. “This revision to the labor condition application is nothing more than an attempt to discourage contracting out for services by U.S. companies whose contractors employ H-1B professionals,” Vic Goel, managing partner of Goel & Anderson, an immigration law firm, told Forbes contributor Stuart Anderson in an interview.
Based on this new disclosure form, it’s clear that a variety of major companies rely on H-1B subcontracting, including Johnson & Johnson, Pepsi, Cisco, Bank of America, Verizon, Sprint, Domino’s Pizza, Apple, IBM, Facebook, Citigroup, and dozens of others. In theory, those companies might worry that this new type of disclosure will result in bad publicity; but many already utilize H-1B workers as primary employers, so it’s hard to picture why there might be additional blowback.
Average H-1B Salary, 2019 Edition
The sheet also contains another interesting tidbit of information: How much H-1B workers are paid. Although paychecks vary wildly from company to company, the average salary (based on the entirety of this dataset) is $89,779.
For context, the average tech salary is $93,244, according to the most recent Dice Salary Survey. So in theory, many H-1B workers are making less than the average (although many are obviously making quite a bit more—the dataset contains thousands of six-figure salaries, especially for software developers and other roles that demand higher-level skills).
In the meantime, the Trump administration plans on cracking down further on work-based immigration, with USCIS reportedly asking companies about the type of work H-1B visa recipients will be doing, right down to vendor agreements and a list of projects a visa holder is expected to work on. These particular requests for evidence (RFEs) are leading the government to deny companies the standard three-year greenlight for H-1B visas, instead limiting some visas to a two-year term.