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What is the H1B Prevailing Wage? Thumbnail

What is the H1B Prevailing Wage?


Nonimmigrant aliens can work in the United States temporarily on an H1-B visa. The process is complicated and requires plenty of approval, including the wages being paid. 

If you aren’t going to make at least the prevailing wage, your H1-B visa won’t be approved. Here is everything you need to know about the prevailing wage so you can ensure that your H1-B visa application has the best chances of being approved.

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What is Prevailing Wage?

The prevailing wage, also known as the H1-B wage level, is the average employee wage by job type and area. The wage varies by job type, seniority, and area. The point of the prevailing wage is to ensure that the US job market isn’t flooded with ‘cheap labor.’ In other words, immigrants coming in for much lower wages than Americans would require, therefore exploiting the US job market

Each job has a ‘level’ from 1 - 4. Jobs at seniority Level 1 are the lowest paid, and seniority Level 4 is the highest-paid. 

Related Article | 8 Ways To Get Extra Income While On An H1B Visa

Who Qualifies for Prevailing Wage?

Anyone on an H-1B Visa qualifies for prevailing wage. The prevailing wage is dependent on three factors:

  1. The type of job offer

  2. The area the job is located

  3. The required duties (most similar jobs are lumped into the same category)

Employers must pay Visa workers the prevailing wage or the higher wage if it’s the norm for the job. The prevailing wage not only covers the US job market but also ensures immigrants earn the pay they deserve for doing the job.

Even if Visa workers don’t have the required education or qualifications, but land the job, they are entitled to (and must receive) the prevailing wages.’

Related Article | How to Check the Status of Your H-1B Visa Application

Who Pays Prevailing Wage?

Any employer looking to employ nonimmigrant aliens in a specific occupation that US-based workers would need a bachelor’s degree or higher to obtain must pay prevailing wage. The H-1B program allows such employers to hire nonimmigrant aliens to do the job temporarily. 

The H-1B employer is required to pay the greater of the prevailing wage or actual wages they would have paid an American worker, if available.

Why is the Prevailing Wage Important?

The H1-B Visa prevailing wage is important for both the US employees and visa workers. The US employees are protected from exploitation. If the rules didn’t exist, employers could look to nonimmigrant alien applicants much more favorably because they could hire them for much lower wages. This would endanger the US job market tremendously.

It also protects nonimmigrant aliens, though. No employers can take advantage of them by hiring them for much less than they would normally pay for the position if a US-based employee took the job. 

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6 Factors Considered for the Prevailing Wage

  1. You can search the prevailing wage for any job in a specific area using the Foreign Labor Certification Center search tool.

  2. Your employer must file a Labor Condition Application which includes the details of your pay, which the Department of Labor must approve, ensuring that it is at least as much as the prevailing wage.

  3. Pay is a key determining factor in LCA approval. If the pay doesn’t meet the prevailing wage, the application will get denied.

  4. H1-B visas are for nonimmigrant aliens with special skills and/or education who provide value to the US job market.

  5. If your job is a level 1, it may be harder to secure an H1-B visa because level 1 isn’t considered someone with ‘special skills.’ The only exception may be if there is a shortage of employees for that job type in the US.

  6. Your employer must provide you with the wage level information so you can search the Foreign Labor Certification Center search tool to determine if the wages offered meet the prevailing wage.

Related Article | The Complete Guide on the H1B to Green Card Process

What are the Requirements for Prevailing Wage Determination?

Employers must find out the prevailing wage by contacting the National Prevailing Wage Center. They must also complete for ETA-9141 - the Application for Prevailing Wage Determination. Employers must submit it to the National Prevailing Wage Center either via mail or online.

Employers must use one of the three methods to determine the prevailing wage:

  • Use the prevailing wage form the NPWC

  • Using information from a survey done by an authoritative source

  • Using any other allowed source based on the industry

How to Find the Prevailing Wage Rates for LCA

Your best bet in finding the prevailing wage rates for LCA is to contact an immigration attorney that's well versed in the prevailing wage laws. You must know that you are applying for a job that supports the wage level in order to obtain your H1-B visa.

Related Article | How To File US Taxes for H1B Visa Holders and H4 Visa Family Members

Prevailing Wages Protect Nonimmigrant Aliens

Prevailing wages protect you, even though it seems like they make it harder to get a job. When you find a job that pays you what you are worth, we’ll be there for you every step of the way. At MYRA Wealth, we understand what it’s like to be an immigrant in the US and are here to help you through the process, making it as easy as possible for you.

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