Tag Archives: prevailing wage

Prevailing Wage: How Much Does A Foreigner Need To Be Paid

It is a source of confusion for many foreigners when they realize that there is actually a minimum wage that they must be paid to be sponsored on an H-1B Visa, E-3 Visa or O-1 Visa that is not related to general US minimum wage law. This is known as the Prevailing Wage and it differs by profession, level, geography and nature of the role.

When an employer files the ETA-9035(e) form to the Department of Labor (DOL) to get your approved Labor Condition Application (LCA), a part of that form relates to inputting the Prevailing Wage from a verified source. This is the only step required in a standard E-3 visa application prior to an applicant going to their US Consulate interview if outside the country but it is the preceding step to filing the I-129 form to the USCIS which is mandatory for H-1B visa, the O-1 Visa and for the E-3 Visa if the applicant is already present in the US under an approved status.

The actual Prevailing Wage can be slightly subjective but the important thing to note is that it is never a very low amount and the LCA can be rejected if the DOL determines it is not the appropriate job code and pay level given your role. Many foreigners fall at this step in their eagerness to get to the US they are willing to be paid a lot less for the chance not realizing this is part of the process.

The are a few government approved sources but the most common is the FLC Data Center. They have a wizard where you can enter your location and job type and you can manually find which job code is most suitable relative to the role you are going to fill and the Level from I to IV which largely corresponds to seniority.

It is here with job codes and similar job types and the seniority that people get creative with what job code is suitable to match their pay level. However you want to be careful as if you are a professional leading a team and you just put down a Level I, Entry Level Job code for your job type, you could be rejected and face additional scrutiny for any future application. As mentioned these job rates relate to professional jobs so the rates are far higher than any minimum wage level for the state.

Also it is worthwhile noting there will be significant differences for the same role depending on your location. A Business Analyst working for Ernst & Young for example in NYC will have to be paid more than if they were working in Seattle at the minimum allowed level. Ultimately you should negotiate the best wage, benefits, bonus, equity and severance package policy at the beginning and this minimum level should never be an issue.


H1B Visa Fraud – What Immigrants Should Look Out For

Because of the current economic situation, legal immigrants have now become the target for a lot of anger from politicians to the average citizen nad are being targeted in many ways.

The Seattle Times and many other news organization have being reporting on the H1B visa fraud that has been rife whereby companies mainly in the IT sector have been illegally employing immigrants under the terms of the H1B visa.

Without going into to many details, simply put, the rules of this visa state you must be;
– gainfully employed by your approved employer
– working only on approved job sites for extended periods
– paid the prevailing wage for your profession and location
– be a full employee and some sort of contractor or consultant paid for specific projects
– be treated as any other employee under all relevant labor laws

Essentially these firms that have been engaging in this visa fraud for years, have been violating many and sometimes all of theĀ  above requirements.

One of the most common is “benching” employees and treating them as contractors and only paying them when they are on a specific project. Then often taking a portion of the salary as some sort of agency fee and threatening deportation and bad conditions to employees who dare to complain.

A trick they often engage in is to force employees to sign documents to say they have ill for long periods and unable to work to legally get around the fact they have to continue to pay them the salary stated in the initial visa petition.

Now in some cases also, applicants and immigrant employees have also being engaging in fraud by forging credentials, degrees, etc. but usually that is in full cooperation with a company who is well aware this is the case as ultimately a company should always know whom they are employing and what their background is.

Like with Ellis Island 100-150 years ago and following World War 1 and World War 2, waves of immigrants do want to begin a new life in the US and give the best to their families. However today it is much of corporate America that is screwing these International workers and at the same time their American counterparts by becoming involved in this conduct.

US workers are angry that they are losing jobs to immigrant workers and are angry that they are being laid off while immigrants are retaining their jobs. You can understand this type of anger and definitely sympathize with it.

However when elements of the media and especially members of all levels of government engage in spreading falsehoods and a “blame the immigrant” mentality to cover up their own crappy performance and policies, that is when you get mad!

This sort of public spin has of course gone on for hundreds of years towards the Irish, the Greeks and Italians, the Hispanics and now the educated Asians but in the end it is all these groups of people and numerous other groups that make the USA what it is.

A company like Google would not exist if it wasn’t for this same immigrant story and think how many Americans it employs all across the country let alone the immigrants which intern has create a whole industry which further employs people and so the cycle continues.

I came across a site called Immigrant Voice which is another site along with this one trying to help people on H-1B visas and all the others like E-3, L-1, F-1, J-1, etc. fight their battles in an already tough environment.

So please share you story here so we can all learn..