H1B Wage Level and H1B Prevailing Wage Explained

Updated on November 27, 2023
margin-bottom: 30px”> At a Glance: The minimum wage requirement for H1B visas ensures that H1B workers are not exploited as cheap labor and are paid comparably to U.S. workers. H1B employers must submit job information, including wage levels, to comply with anti-money laundering and know your customer regulations. The prevailing wage for H1B visas is based on the average wage for specific job types in a given area. Different wage levels correspond to different levels of seniority and responsibilities. Compliance with prevailing wage levels helps protect the U.S. job market and economy while ensuring fair treatment for H1B workers.

Understanding the prevailing wage for H1B visas is crucial for both employers and potential employees. This comprehensive guide explains the H1B wage level, detailing how it is determined and its significance in the H1B visa application process.

Why is There a Minimum Wage Requirement for H1B Visas?

The H1B wage levels ensure that H1B workers are paid comparably to U.S. workers, preventing exploitation as cheap labor. Employers must submit job information, including wage level, location, and job title, as part of the Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL).

What is the H1B Wage Level?

The H1B wage level, or prevailing wage, is the average wage for employees in a specific area for each job type. The prevailing wage data is available at the Foreign Labor Application Data Center. You can also check the status of LCA requests.

The H1B Wage Levels Explained

Jobs have four income levels, reflecting seniority and expertise:

  1. H1B Wage Level 1: Entry-level, 17th percentile wage.
  2. H1B Wage Level 2: For those with relevant education and experience, 34th percentile wage.
  3. H1B Wage Level 3: Experienced employees with deeper job understanding, 50th percentile wage.
  4. H1B Wage Level 4: Experts in the field, 67th percentile wage.

Importance of the H1B Prevailing Wage

The DOL and USCIS ensure the H1B visa protects the U.S. job market from cheap labor practices. The LCA test, which includes assessing the H1B wage level, is a crucial part of this process. Lower wage levels are typically granted when there is a skill shortage in the area.

Determining the H1B Prevailing Wage Levels

The DOL sets prevailing wage levels based on occupation and region. The wage must reflect the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in the area of intended employment. For detailed guidance, refer to the Prevailing Wage Determination Policy Guidance.

H1B Wage Level Requirements for LCA

The wage level determines the salary for the job being applied for from abroad. You cannot earn less than the prevailing wage for your job type in the specified area, as this would lead to LCA disapproval.

Making Sure Your Wage Level Supports Your Case

H1B visas are for individuals with specific skills beneficial to the United States. Ensure the wage level of the job you’re applying for supports your immigration attempt. Consult a U.S. registered immigration attorney for the best advice.

How to Check the H1B Prevailing Wage for a Job by Location

To find the prevailing wage for a specific job and location:

  1. Visit the H1BGrader.com Prevailing Wage Search Page.
  2. Enter the Job Title SOC Code and Area Name.

For historical data on prevailing wages, visit the History of H1B Prevailing Wages search on the same website.

How to Find H1B Wage Levels using FLCDataCenter

To check the prevailing wage on the FLCDataCenter site:

  1. Visit the FLCDataCenter and select the search wizard.
  2. Choose the database source for Prevailing wage.

How to Find Your Wage Level with an H1B LCA

Your current H1B Wage Level is in Section G of your H1B Labor Condition Application. You can also use H1BGrader.com LCA Search with your LCA number.

Further Reading About H1B Visas

Final Thoughts

H1B visas are granted for jobs approved by the Department of Labor. The LCA must be approved, with the prevailing wage playing a key role in this process. The actual wage offered must match or exceed the prevailing wage for the job in its location. Remember to compare jobs on the corresponding H1B wage level.

H1B Wage Level and H1B Prevailing Wage FAQs

Below are some common questions regarding H1B Wage Levels and H1B Prevailing Wages.

What is the H1B prevailing wage?

The H1B prevailing wage is the minimum wage employers must pay H1B visa holders, determined by the average wage for similar positions in the same geographic area.

How is the H1B prevailing wage calculated?

It’s calculated based on the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in the specific occupation and geographic area.

Where can I find prevailing wage information?

Prevailing wage data is available at the Foreign Labor Application Data Center website or by submitting a request to the National Prevailing Wage Center.

Are there different levels of H1B prevailing wages?

Yes, there are four levels, each reflecting different degrees of skills, responsibilities, and experience.

What happens if an employer pays less than the prevailing wage?

Paying below the prevailing wage can lead to penalties, back wages, and potential disqualification from using the H1B program.

Can the prevailing wage change over time?

Yes, it can change based on fluctuations in the job market and economic conditions in the specific geographic area.

Is the prevailing wage the same for all occupations?

No, it varies by occupation and geographic location.

How important is the prevailing wage in the H1B visa application process?

It’s crucial, as the Labor Condition Application (LCA) must demonstrate the wage meets or exceeds the prevailing wage for LCA approval.

Can I negotiate my salary above the prevailing wage?

Yes, employers can pay more than the prevailing wage, but not less.

Are all H1B visa jobs subject to the prevailing wage requirement?

Yes, all H1B visa positions must comply with the prevailing wage requirements.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.