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How does the “average” software developer salary match up against its H-1B equivalent? With companies ramping up hiring, and the Biden administration removing many of the Trump administration’s restrictions on the H-1B visa, that’s a question worth asking. 

According to the H-1B Salary Database, which indexes the Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the median salary for a software developer on an H-1B visa currently stands at $93,558. That’s based on data from 1,291 employers in 742 cities. Within many of the nation’s biggest tech hubs, that salary is notably higher, as you can see from the following chart:

It’s interesting to note that, in Austin and Atlanta (as well as many other, smaller cities), the local salary for H-1B software developers is actually lower than the national median. In well-established hubs such as San Jose and San Francisco, it’s radically higher. 

That’s not the whole story, of course. While FAANG giants and larger tech companies may also pay H-1B workers quite a bit, business-services and consulting firms tend to pay those on the visa a lot lower—and then subcontract their services to other companies. At Tata, for example, the median salary (again, according to the H-1B Salary Database) is $67,766; at Accenture, it’s $94,400. As we’ve pointed out before, many of these large tech firms subcontract a substantial number of H-1B workers from other firms, which can obscure what software developers on the visa are truly getting paid as a group.

According to the latest Dice Salary Report, meanwhile, the average technologist made $97,859 in 2020 (an increase of 3.6 percent from 2019). Software developers made substantially more than that, earning an average of $111,297. In other words, software developers as a whole made more than the average software developer on an H-1B. But as we’ve dug into before, software engineers, data scientists and other highly skilled roles easily pull down six-figure salaries for H-1B applicants.