Which cities feature the most companies filing H-1B applications, and how much are those H-1B workers actually earning? As you might expect, New York City and Silicon Valley (including San Francisco) pulled in a massive amount of H-1B workers (and paid quite a bit to do so), but other cities across the country also posted big numbers.
At first glance, New York City leads the pack, with 7,430 employers for H-1B workers last year. However, if we combine San Francisco with the various Silicon Valley metro areas (San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View), then the Bay Area leads with 12,435. None of that is unexpected; Silicon Valley and “Silicon Alley” both feature hundreds of companies applying for H-1B workers on a regular basis. Check out the rest of the list:
First, one caveat before we further break down cities: Although much of the discussion around the H-1B visa focuses on the tech industry, it’s actually medical jobs that rack up the highest H-1B salaries, at least according to Department of Labor data crunched by the H1B Salary Database.
For example, interventional cardiologists on the H-1B visa make an average salary of $423,052 (there were 266 filings for that position in 2019) while H-1B gastroenterologists pull down $403,504 (267 filings last year); by contrast, computer and information systems managers—the top tech job on the H-1B salary list—pull down “only” an average of $189,682, from 123 filings. So while tech certainly has an influence on these numbers, it’s not the whole story.
In any case, Silicon Valley cities are paying the highest H-1B salaries, on average, with Mountain View (home of Google) leading that particular pack. Outside of California cities and Seattle, New York City is the only city that manages to break the six-figure salary mark in this listing.
Among the rest of the cities on the list, Texas is particularly well-represented—no surprise, given the number of business-services and consulting companies with offices in the state, along with tech firms. Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle also place, thanks in large part to their size and diverse mix of companies.
It’s worth comparing these cities to the average H-1B salary, which is $89,779. We crunched that particular number via an analysis of a massive dataset of H-1B data for fiscal year 2019 provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, which breaks down over 412,425 H-1B cases (and also reveals the “secondary entities” where primary employers might send H-1B workers as subcontractors). The average “overall” tech salary stands at $93,244.
That’s not the whole story, of course. Business-services and consulting firms will secure as many H-1B workers as they can, and then subcontract those workers to client companies at lower rates than what full-time employees earn. Just because H-1B workers in a particular city are pulling down six-figure salaries doesn’t mean that all—or even most—H-1B workers are earning those amounts. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been denying H-1B applications at a much higher rate over the past two years, but it might be some time before the impact of that is fully felt.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article displayed incorrect data for some cities. It has now been corrected. Thanks to everyone who pointed it out!