One of the key things that is important for H1B Visa approval and compliance is to have proper wage paid to the H1B worker. The minimum wage for H1B workers or Salary is defined and set by concept of ‘Wage Levels’ based on some factors like experience and location.
In this article, we review all the details of Wage Levels, how they are determined, and importance of the same in H1B LCA for approval from USCIS.
Why minimum wage required for H1B LCA?
The reason for having H1B wage levels and setting a minimum wage for H1B workers is to make sure H1B workers are paid on par with US workers and not exploited by employers as cheap labor. Also, they are required to provide similar working conditions like US workers.
To meet these requirements, H1B employers submit wage level, location, job title, and other information for compliance as part of the Labor Condition Application ( LCA ) that is submitted to US Dept of Labor.
Background of Wage Levels
The concept of Wage levels was first introduced in October 1997, where they introduced two skill levels, Level I for beginning level employees and Level II for fully competent employees. While, this worked well for sometime, there were many issues on determining the wage for management roles and advanced judgment based skills. The concept of Four wage levels was introduced in 2004 under the “H1B Visa Reform Act of 2004”. That’s how the prevailing wage levels came into existence.
Now that you know the background, let’s look at the details
What are H1B Wage Levels by US Dept of Labor ?
H1B Wage Levels are prevailing wage levels that are set by the US Department of Labor (DOL) based on wage data collected under Occupational Employment Statistics(OES) Program. It is used for Foreign Labor Certification Process like H1B LCA. The wage levels are set so that H1B workers are paid the prevailing wage that are based on education, experience and location, similar to US workers.
There are 4 H1B Wage levels that are defined by DOL based on OES program
- H1B Wage Level 1 – Entry : This wage level is for entry level H1B workers with basic understanding of job. This wage level corresponds to 45th Percentile
( Old – 17th percentile.)
- H1B Wage Level 2 – Qualified: This wage level is for qualified workers with education, experience and who can perform moderate tasks with limited judgment. This wage level corresponds to 62nd percentile (
Old 34th percentile.)
- H1B Wage Level 3 – Experienced : This wage level is for experienced workers who have deeper experience that is attained with education and experience. This level work requires judgment and may also manage people. This wage level corresponds to 78th percentile
( Old 50th percentile.)
- H1B Wage Level 4 – Fully Competent: This wage level the most expert level of workers, who can do complex tasks and can exercise a lot of judgment in their activities. It may include management responsibilities too. This wage level corresponds to 95th percentile
(Old – 67th percentile.)
A new wage levels revision rule was published on October 8th, 2020 and the below wage levels are effective now. Check details at : details at : Prevailing Wage Levels Changes for H1B LCA, PERM.
|Prevailing Wage Level||H1B LCA, PERM Wage levels Before||New H1B LCA, PERM Wage levels with Regulation|
|Wage Level I||17th percentile||45th percentile|
|Wage Level II||34th percentile||62nd percentile|
|Wage Level III||50th percentile||78th percentile|
|Wage Level IV||67th percentile||95th percentile|
Determining Prevailing Wage Levels
Department of Labor (DOL) has official guidance on how the prevailing wage levels are set and what data is used for the same. Read Prevailing Wage Determination Policy Guidance for complete information on the process of setting the wage levels and other key information that is relevant for minimum wage.
Minimum Wage Requirement H1B Visa Petition, LCA
It is H1B employer’s responsibility and wage requirement to make sure the H1B worker is paid on par with the prevailing wage or minimum wage defined for the H1B job position. H1B workers cannot be working below the minimum wage for the position offered. It is based on various factors related to the job position offered like experience, geographic location and education.
The minimum wage related information for various job positions are available at Foreign Labor Certification Data Center website. It is the online wage library for H1B workers to know the minimum wage for a position. The FLCDataCenter website is the official source of prevailing wage information and by the State of Utah under contract with the US Department of Labor, Office of Foreign Labor Certification.
Now that you know the basics of minimum wage requirements, let’s look at how to find out the prevailing wage for a position.
We will look at two options to check Prevailing Wage Levels for H1B LCAs, one is at FLCDataCenter.com website and second is at H1BGrader.com website that uses the same official FLCDatacenter.com website data, but with better UI and has comparison with new changes from October 8, 2020.
How to Compare H1B Prevailing Wage Levels – Old vs. New
As the H1B prevailing wage levels have changed from Oct 8th, 2020 as per the regulation, it is always difficult to understand the new changes, without comparing with old data. Below is how you can do it.
Step 1 : Navigate to H1BGrader.com Prevailing Wage Search Page
Step 2 : Enter the Job Title SOC Code and Area Name. You can start typing and you will get suggestions. Select them like below and hit on Search button.
Step 3 : You will see the search results and comparison of the H1B Prevailing Wage Levels before and after October 8th change. See below how it looks.
Now, let’s look at how you can check the prevailing wage on the official FLCDataCenter website. The UI is not the best.
How to find Prevailing Wage for H1B LCA ?
Below is the step by step guide to find the minimum wage ( prevailing wage ) for a H1B job position
Step 1 : Navigate to website Foreign Labor Certification Data Center and select the search wizard from menu on the left. See below screenshot. You can also select Quick Search, if you want to directly go to search. The wizard lets you select state and let you go step by step.
Step 2 : Select the options for the Source of the Database for Prevailing wage. If you are not sure, just select all industries. You will need to select the Area where you will plan to work or your job location and then last option is to select the job title of the position. You can also chose to use the keyword option to enter, if you cannot find the job title. See below.
Step 3 : Once you select above options and hit search, you will get wage information like below. It will list all the wage levels and the minim wage for that wage level. One of the key things you need to ask your employer or know is the wage level that is being field for your position. It is critical for your H1B position and approval with DOL and USCIS. Also, you need to ask the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) code that they plan to use for the position. You will be able to see that info as well.
How to find your Wage Level from H1B LCA ?
Labor Condition Application has all the information related to your H1B position. You can ask your employer to share the copy of LCA. In fact, they are supposed to share you a copy of your LCA. To see the wage level info, you need to look at Section G, which tell the information of the Wage Level, Wage offered in that area and the Wage database year. See below screenshot.
If you know the LCA number, you can search for your LCA online on websites like H1BGrader.com LCA Search, to view the LCA details. They get the data from US Dept of Labor H1B LCA disclosure page. You can also go to the DOL Performance Data Disclosure Page and download the excels and search for your case number. The problem is the files are in hundreds of megabytes and not consumable.
It is important to have the right wage level selected as cases with Computer Programmer Level 1 wage are not considered speciality occupation and do not qualify for H1B Visa as per the New Policy Memorandum in April 2017
Yes, H1B Wage Levels prevailing wages were revised in October 2020 as per new regulation. The prevailing wage requirements for H1B holders went up as the percentiles were revised. Check above article on the details.
Your employer is mandated to pay as per the wages and salary listed on the LCA. If they are not paying so, you can raise a complaint with Department of Labor by filling out WH4 Form. First thing to do is to raise it with employer and ask them to pay back wages or pay as per LCA. If they do not say so, then you can raise a request with WH4 form on DOL website
USCIS would look at the H1B application as a whole and as part of that they would ensure that H1B worker is paid as per the prevailing wage. If there is any discrepancy, USCIS can report the wage violation for the employer to DOL or ask the employer why not paid on par with others.
The prevailing wage is based on wage surveys conducted by OES and it keeps changing. That is the reason, you always need to use the most recent Prevailing wage as they mention on the FLC Data Center website.
Did we miss anything ? Your thoughts ?