What does "Prevailing Wage" mean for Employment Visas?
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that when a U.S. company hires a foreign worker, jobs won’t be taken from qualified U.S. citizens, and that there will be no adverse effects on the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers in the area of intended employment. To achieve this goal, immigration regulations require the wages offered to a foreign worker must be the “prevailing wage” rate for that occupation.
Paying the prevailing wage is a requirement for most employment based visa programs. The H-1B visa, H-1B1, and E-3 programs require the employer to pay the prevailing wage or the actual wage paid by the employer to workers with similar skills and qualifications, whichever is higher.
How can my employer prove that they are paying the prevailing wage to satisfy the work visa requirements?
USCIS wants to protect the interests of United States citizens so that they do not lose jobs. Your U.S. employer needs to prove that they are paying you the wage that an American in the same or similar position would receive. Thus, the prevailing wage rate is considered the average wage paid to similarly employed workers. To determine this average wage, USCIS looks at many different specific jobs and positions in the same or similar occupation or area of work as your intended U.S. employment. Your U.S. employer can research the wage rate by contacting the State Workforce Agency (SWA) having jurisdiction over the geographic area of intended employment or from other legitimate sources of information, such as the Wage determinations OnLine program.
The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) is used to classify occupational wage information. The SOC provides a common language for categorizing occupations and serves as the framework for information gathered through the Department of Labor’s efforts.
If you have questions about employment-based visas and other worker visas, contact our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles now for a free and confidential consultation.