The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that the hiring of a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers comparably employed. To comply with the statute, the Department's regulations require that the wages offered to a foreign worker must be the prevailing wage rate for the occupational classification in the area of employment.
The prevailing wage rate is defined as the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment. Effective January 4, 2010, employers can obtain this wage rate by submitting a request to the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC), or by accessing other legitimate sources of information such as the Online Wage Library, available for use in some programs.
The requirement to pay prevailing wages as a minimum is true of most employment based visa programs involving the Department of Labor. In addition, the H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 programs require the employer to pay the prevailing wage or the actual wage paid by the employer to workers with similar skills and qualifications, whichever is higher.
The Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has provided wage data collected under the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program for use in the Foreign Labor Certification process since 1998. The wage data is available on the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center Online Wage Library (OWL), found at the following website: http://www.flcdatacenter.com/.
Since September 1999, the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) has been used by the OES program to classify occupational wage information. The SOC provides a common language for categorizing occupations. It also serves as the framework for information being gathered through the Department of Labor's Occupational Information Network (O*NET). The O*NET provides the general public information on skills, abilities, knowledge, tasks, work activities, and the specific vocational preparation levels associated with occupations. O*NET information can be found at http://online.onetcenter.org/. Wage data from the OES survey and occupational information in O*NET are both classified by the SOC, reducing the need to use crosswalks to connect wages to occupational requirements.
The prevailing wage information provided on this page pertains to the Nonagricultural Immigration Programs (PERM, H-2B, H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C and E-3). For information on the Agricultural Immigration Program (H-2A), click here.
The NPWC uses the Prevailing Wage Determination Policy Guidance in issuing wage determinations for the Nonagricultural Immigration Programs. The Department updated the guidance in November 2009 following the publication of the H-2B regulation and the corresponding changes to PERM, H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C and E-3 regulations that affected the prevailing wage determination process. To read the updated Prevailing Wage guidance, please click here.
To request a prevailing wage determination (PWD) for a Nonagricultural Immigration Program (PERM, H-1B, H-1B1, H-2b and E-3) employers must complete the ETA Form 9141 and submit it to the National Prevailing Wage Center. Electronic filing is strongly recommended. The Department's iCert Portal has been updated to allow users to electronically submit requests for PWDs to the NPWC. To access the iCert Portal go to: https://icert.doleta.gov/.
For the H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 programs, employers have the option of using one of three wage sources to obtain the prevailing wage: (1) requesting a prevailing wage from the NPWC; (2) using a survey conducted by an independent authoritative source; or (3) using another legitimate source of information. By obtaining the prevailing wage from the NPWC, H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 employers are given "safe-harbor status," meaning that if the employer's wage compliance is investigated for any reason, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor will not challenge the validity of the prevailing wage as long as it was applied properly (i.e., correct geographic area, occupation, and skill level).
- ETA 9141 Application for Prevailing Wage Determination
- ETA 9141 General Instructions
- Online Wage Library
- O*NET Online Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)
- Service Contract Act (SCA) and Davis-Bacon Act (DBA) Wage Determinations
Employment and Training Administration
Office of Foreign Labor Certification
National Prevailing Wage Center
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Application specific questions: FLC.PWD@dol.gov
iCERT Portal System technical issues: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (202) 693-8200