Are you applying for an H-1B visa? Many of Remitly’s customers have come to the United States on an H-1B visa, and we know just how important it is—not to mention complicated.
Don’t worry. We’ll break it down for you.
You may have noticed that the prevailing wage for your desired position is very important. That’s because there are laws in the U.S. ensuring that all employees get treated fairly. Employment-based visas are meant to follow these regulations.
Read on to find out more, including how to research the H-1B prevailing wage in your area.
What is the H-1B?
The H-1B is a nonimmigrant work visa allowing U.S. employers to hire temporary workers. To qualify, workers need to be within a specialty occupation, a job that relates to Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research, or work as a fashion model.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a specialty occupation is a job position that requires highly specialized knowledge and requires a bachelor’s degree at minimum or an equivalent. In some cases you may need an official letter from your employer verifying your specialty.
The goal of H-1B visa is to assist employers who aren’t able to hire employees in the U.S. with their desired skill set. This employer-sponsored visa means an employer can offer a job to non-residents who want to work for them.
What is the H-1B Prevailing Wage?
The prevailing wage, also referred to as the H1-B wage level, is the average amount that’s earned by employees in a specific area, with similar skills and qualifications.
Each kind of job will have their own prevailing wage. You can search the Foreign Labor Application Data Center for data about jobs and their prevailing wages in the U.S.
Furthermore, each type of job has four different income levels. Of these, the fourth is the highest. Each level is based on the leadership, management skills, or seniority associated with each job. With increased responsibility, the prevailing wage goes up.
How Do I Find the H-1B Prevailing Wage?
Finding the prevailing wage is a great way to determine whether your employer will have a high chance of success in getting your H-1B visa approved.
Here’s how to find the prevailing wage for your role:
- Head to the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center website and the “Wage Library” tab;
- Click on “Search Wizard”;
- Enter as many job details as possible;
- Hit “search” once you fill on as much as you can; and
- Check out the wage levels and average salaries within a specific geographic area.
Once you have that information, compare it to the job you’ve applied for. The employer needs to provide you with detailed information, including the H-1B wage level of the job. Look for the wage level for your intended position, as well.
Why Is The Prevailing Wage Important?
The prevailing wage is meant to help protect the job market in the U.S. Both the Department of Labor (DOL) and the USCIS work together to certify employment-based visas so that workers won’t fall victim to cheap labor practices.
That’s why the job position needs to pass an LCA (Labor Condition Application) test. One of the most important factors is looking at the H-1B wage level.
Who Pays For These Wages?
Your employer is the one who pays for wages and the legal and processing fees with obtaining your H-1B visa. As in, they are required to pay at least the minimum of the prevailing wage for the H-1B visa.
If the actual wage paid by the employer for other workers with similar qualifications is higher, the employer needs to pay that amount.
How Are Prevailing Wages Determined?
The prevailing wage for H-1B is determined by the LCA, which is the first stage of the visa process. Employers need to submit the LCA to the Department of Labor. It needs to be certified before a petition to the USCIS furthers the application process.
The LCA is where your employer will specify the details of the position, including where you’ll be working, your wage level, the prevailing wage, and how much the employer intends to pay you.
The review process is done electronically and may happen within minutes, depending on whether a human reviewer needs to look at the application.
What is the Key Requirement for an LCA Approval?
Salary level is a key requirement for the LCA. Although the wage level for your specific job position will determine your final salary, you can’t earn less than the prevailing wage for your job area.
If you receive an offer of employment that’s for less than the prevailing wage, the LCA won’t be approved.
Since H-1B visas are reserved for those who have specialized ability, knowledge, or skills that aren’t readily available in the U.S., the wage level is also key.
For instance, a level one (or low) wage may not be convincing enough to suggest that a foreign national should be first in line. Of course, this depends on the type of job and whether there is a shortage of skills in a certain geographic area.
Why Should I Care About the LCA?
You want to ensure that your employer is paying you a fair wage, or one that is similar to others in the company with similar skills, knowledge, and abilities.
Since the employer is the one who takes care of the entire H-1B process, you want to ensure they’ve offered you a wage level that supports the visa requirements.
When you’re applying for jobs, it’s not only the salary and other benefits you need to consider, but also your chances of visa approval. You may be able to ask your employer if they’ve hired H-1B employees before or how they intend to get your visa application approved.
An employer needs to pay H-1B visa employees the prevailing wage (or actual wage, if that amount is higher.) You can rest assured that you’ll be paid similarly to others working in the same company.
This process ensures that you’re being treated fairly, and protects the U.S. job market and economy at the same time.
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