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Data science graduates on new U.S. visas can earn $100k

After years of limiting the amount of overseas talent available for banks' technology and data science jobs under President Trump, the U.S. government is now making it easier for finance firms to hire international students under President Biden.

Last week, the Biden administration added data science and financial analytics to the list of degrees for which  international students on student visas can spend three years after graduating in the U.S. instead of the standard one year for most courses. Known as 'optional practical training', the three-year waiver is now being applied more widely.

Salary figures for H1B visa holders indicate that recently graduated data science and analytics students who work for U.S. banks can expect to earn anything from $85k to $190k, depending upon their role and where they're based. As we've noted before, some of the highest salaries for technologists in finance are on offer at JPMorgan in California. Salaries are a lot lower for entry-level quants at Wells Fargo in Charlotte. 

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • pb
    29 January 2022

    Clearly our tax structure still encourages US firms to offshore jobs, or to import workers, as opposed to hiring American workers. This is beyond sick. It's also short sighted - sooner or later there will no longer be enough American consumers with jobs tro pay for the imported goods and services of US, and former US companies. Henry Ford, not known for his 'saintly' ways, understood this problem and paid his workers better that any other car firm and this improved the market for his own cars. I am long past any expectations that extremely overpaid US corp execs care even slightly about their workers or anyone else 'below them', but they shouldn't be allowed to reap any benefits from their extreme greed. These problems need to be fixed.

  • Ci
    26 January 2022

    Optional Practical Training amounts to the government offering a $10,000 per year incentive to employers for hiring a foreign college graduate instead of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident college graduate. This bonus takes the form of the employer being exempt from paying payroll tax for their foreign college graduates (due to their student status, which they technically still have under OPT in spite of having graduated).

    By way of example: In 2017 alone, Amazon employed 3,655 foreign workers on OPT[1]. Amazon's average starting salary for "entry-level engineers" is approximately $108,000[2]. Social Security and Medicare tax rates for employers is 6.2% and 1.45%, respectively (7.65% combined)[3].

    On one worker alone, Amazon saved $8,262/yr by preferring an OPT worker instead of an American worker ($108,000 X .0765). On all 3,655 OPT workers they hired in 2017, Amazon saved a total of $30,197,610 in one year by preferring OPT workers instead of American workers ($8,262 X 3,655). You read that right. $30 million. Why hire Americans, eh?

    [1] US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    2017 Top 200 Employers for Pre‐ and Post‐Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) Students

    [2] Tuttle, Beecher (16 April 2019).
    Comparing salaries and bonuses at Facebook, Amazon and Google

    [3] Internal Revenue Service (14 Feb 2020).
    Topic No. 751 Social Security and Medicare Withholding Rates

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