PERM, H-2B, H-1B, H-1B1, E-3 and CW-1 Programs:
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 (OWL), 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 and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program for use in the Foreign Labor Certification process since 1998. The wage data is available on the Foreign Labor Certification Data Center website at http://www.flcdatacenter.com.
Since September 1999, the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) has been used by the OEWS 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. Wage data from the OEWS 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 in this section pertains to the Nonagricultural Immigration Programs (PERM, H-2B, H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C and E-3). Please see below for the Agricultural Immigration Program (H-2A) prevailing wage resources or click here to visit the H-2A program page.
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 Form ETA-9141 and submit it to the National Prevailing Wage Center. Electronic filing using the FLAG System is strongly recommended.
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) a PWD obtained from the NPWC; (2) a survey conducted by an independent authoritative source; or (3) another legitimate source of wage information. By obtaining a PWD 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).
Regulations and FAQs
- H-2B Wage Final Rule 2015
- 20 CFR 655 Subpart A (H-2B program)
- 20 CFR 656 Subpart D (PERM, H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 programs)
- Prevailing Wage Determinations (2009 Federal Register Notice)
- Prevailing Wage FAQs
- Policy Guidance
Filing Tools and Resources
- FLAG System
- Forms and Instructions
- FLC Data Center/Online Wage Library
- O*NET - Online Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)
- CW-1 Wage Data
- Skill Level Explanation
- SVP Explanation
- Filling out the 9141-C
- H-2B Concepts for Surveyors and Filing Tips Webinar Presentation - April 3, 2018
- H-2B 2015 Final Wage Rule Webinar Presentation - May 2015
- H-2B 2015 Final Wage Rule Webinar Presentation - August 2015
- H-2B 2015 Final Wage Rule Webinar Recording - May 13, 2015
- H-2B 2015 Final Wage Rule Webinar Recording - May 15, 2015
- H-2B 2015 Final Wage Rule Webinar Recording - August 21, 2015
- NPWC Updates November, 2019
- CNMI PWD Filing Tips