Prevailing Wage

The prevailing wage rate is defined as the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in the requested occupation in the area of intended employment.

This wage rate is usually obtained by contacting the State Workforce Agency (SWA) having jurisdiction over the geographic are of intended employment or from other legitimate sources of information, such as the Online Wage Library:

When searching the Online Wage Library:,  keep in mind that in order for a position to be considered an H-1B Specialty occupation, the Job Zone must be 4 or higher.

The prevailing wage is based on the employer’s minimum requirements for the position.

Here is a guide on what prevailing wage to expect based on the employer’s minimum requirements:

Bachelor Degree and 0-1 years of experience required should result in a Level 1 prevailing wage.

Bachelor Degree and 2 years of experience should result in a Level 2 prevailing wage.

Master Degree and no experience required should result in a Level 2 prevailing wage.

Bachelor Degree and 3 years of experience should result in a Level 3 prevailing wage.

Bachelor Degree and 4+ years of experience should result in a Level 4 prevailing wage.

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 working in the occupation in the area of intended employment.

To comply with the statute, the Department’s regulations require the wages offered to a foreign worker must be the prevailing wage rate for the occupational classification in the area of employment.

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 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) is used by the OES program to classify occupational wage information.

The SOC provides a common language for categorizing occupations and serves as the framework for information gathered through the Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET):

The O*NET provides information on skills, abilities, knowledge, tasks, and work activities associated with SOC occupations.

Private Salary Surveys for H-1B Visa Processing:

To qualify as a valid wage survey, it must meet the following guidelines:

1. Have been published within the last 24 months and be the most recent edition of the survey,

2. Must reflect the area of intended employment,

3. The data must represent workers who are similarly employed (as defined by a similar job title),

4. The data must have been collected across industries that employ workers in the occupation,

5. The prevailing wage determination should be based on the arithmetic mean of wages for similarly employed workers, and

6. The employer must include the methodology used to show that it is reasonable and consistent with recognized statistical standards and principles in producing a prevailing wage.

Pursuant to the Employment and Training Administration Prevailing Wage Determination Policy Guidance, Nonagricultural Immigration Programs, Revised May 9, 2005, page 16 and Appendix F and Department regulations at 20 Code of Federal Regulations 655.731(b)(3)(iii)(B)(1)-(2) and (C)(1)-(2) the prevailing wage rate should be based on the arithmetic mean of wages for workers that are similarly employed in the area of intended employment; however, if the survey provides a median wage of workers similarly employed in the area of intended employment and does not provide an arithmetic mean, the median wage should be used as the prevailing wage.

Related Links:
H1B Visa Cap / Quota for FY 2018
H-1B Visa Overview
H-1B Visa Renewal / Extension
H-1B Visa Transfer
Amended H-1B Visa
New H-1B Visa, Cap Exempt
H-1B Visa for Entrepreneurs
H-1B Visa for Teachers
H-1B Visa Attorney Fee
H-1B Visa Complete Do it Yourself Kit

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