Contrary to the popular opinion, H-1B visa holders in the United States are among the highest paid workers, new evidence suggests. The median wage of all US workers in 2021 was about $45,000 and the top 10% workers earn a wage of $102,000.
Among the top 10% of US wage earners, the median wage for H‑1B worker in 2021 was about $108,000, well over double the median wage for all US workers, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
This new evidence was brought to light by David J Bier, a research fellow at US think tank Cato Institute.
H1-B program allows US employers, who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the domestic workforce, to employ qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the country. Over the years, Indians, particularly from the IT sector, have been the biggest beneficiaries of this visa. Also, IT companies have been at the forefront of receiving large number of H1-B visas.
“Opponents of the H‑1B visa often claim that H‑1B employers “pay low wages.” This has never been true, but the latest wage data prove how ridiculous this claim is. H‑1B workers are highly paid: their wages are in the 90th percentile of all wages in the United States, meaning that they have wages in the top 10 percent of US wage earners. H‑1B workers are not low wage or “cheap” workers in any honest assessment of the meaning of those words,” he said in a blog post.
H‑1B wages have surged above the 90th percentile for the first time since DHS has reported H‑1B wages in 2003. H‑1B wage growth has also exceeded the growth for all US workers, Bier noted.
From 2003 to 2021, the nominal median H‑1B wage grew 52%, while the nominal median for all US workers grew just 39%. “If H‑1B employers could just pay whatever they want—as opponents claim — these increases would not be happening, Bier said.
“DHS held its annual lottery last week to allocate the 85,000 cap‐subject H‑1B temporary work visas for high skilled foreign workers. The exact number of entrants is not clear, but once again, demand for H‑1B workers far exceeded the cap.”