By: Hasan Abdullah, Esq.
Before an employer pursues an H1B petition to sponsor a foreign worker in a specialty occupation, it needs to assess whether it is positioned to offer the worker prevailing wage. Unlike other nonimmigrant worker visa categories, H1B carries with it the requirement that the employer offer and pay the employee prevailing wage.
What Is Prevailing Wage?
Prevailing Wage is defined as the hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime, paid in the largest city in each county, to the majority of workers, laborers, and mechanics. Prevailing wages are established, by the Department of Labor & Industries, for each trade and occupation employed in the performance of public work. They are established separately for each county, and are reflective of local wage conditions.
The prevailing wage for a particular occupation category can be discovered on the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center Online Wage Library (http://www.flcdatacenter.com). Occupation categories can be discovered on USDOL O*Net website (http://online.onetcenter.org). It important to note that while there are occupation categories the O*Net-SOC code shows a bachelor’s degree or greater as the minimum requirement (jobs with an SVP of over 7); such occupations are not necessarily eligible for H1B. Discussion of what specifically qualifies an occupation for H1B approval is nuanced and beyond the scope of this article.