An anonymous reader writes: If you work at Apple's One Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino as a computer programmer on an H-1B visa, you can can be paid as little as $52,229. That's peanuts in Silicon Valley. Average wages for a programmer in Santa Clara County are more than $93,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the U.S. government will approve visa applications for Silicon Valley programmers at $52,229 -- and, in fact, did so for hundreds of potential visa holders at Apple alone. To be clear, this doesn't mean there are hundreds of programmers at Apple working for that paltry sum. Apple submitted a form to the U.S. saying it was planning on hiring 150 computer programmers beginning June 14 at this wage. But it's not doing that. Instead, this is a paperwork exercise by immigration attorneys to give an employer -- in this case, Apple -- maximum latitude with the H-1B laws. The forms-submittal process doesn't always reflect actual hiring goals or wage levels. Apple didn't want to comment for the story, but it did confirm some things. It says it hires on the basis on qualifications and that all employees -- visa holders and U.S. workers alike -- are paid equitably and it conducts internal studies to back this up. There are bonuses on top of base pay. Apple may not be paying low wages to H-1B workers, but it can pay low wages to visa workers if it wanted. This fact is at the heart of the H-1B battle.