Recently, an Interim Final Rule was announced by the federal government that amended the Department of Labor’s (DOL) method for calculating the wage data used to determine prevailing wages for nonimmigrant and immigrant petitions. This new rule has caused drastic increases to these prevailing wages in many areas of the country, forcing employers to reassess compensation structures and visa sponsorship guidelines. The minimum wage required to sponsor a Software Engineer in San Francisco on H-1B status, for example, has skyrocketed to $208,000 based on this new rule.
Fortunately, an alternative to utilizing the DOL wage data exists in the form of private wage surveys. According to the DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification, an “independent authoritative source”, such as a private wage survey, can be used to determine the relevant prevailing wage.
As clients begin to explore this option for future immigration applications, we’ve outlined a few important items to consider:
- Existing Vendors/Subscriptions: Please let your legal team know if your company subscribes to a wage survey provider (e.g. Radford, Mercer, Towers Willis Watson, etc.) for internal compensation-setting. Your immigration counsel will be able to assess whether this survey provider is suitable for use in immigration matters. For employers without an existing subscription, your legal team should be able to assist in identifying an appropriate survey provider, if that’s of interest.
- Costs: Subscribing to a survey provider and requesting individual survey reports will incur additional fees. These costs may be minimized for employers who have an existing subscription with a wage survey vendor. We recommend working with your legal team to identify all upcoming immigration matters (e.g. green card cases, H-1B transfers, etc.) to ensure that survey reports can be requested strategically and reused when appropriate in order to reduce costs.
- Risk: Please be sure to work with your immigration legal team before requesting surveys for immigration matters. While the regulations allow for these private wage surveys as an alternative to DOL wage data, caveats do exist that your immigration attorney is best equipped to advise on.
- Timing: Please be aware of the additional timing considerations for requesting a wage survey. Once the job description has been finalized, agreements and payment are finalized, and the survey has been requested, it will generally take 3-5 business days to receive the report before proceeding with filing the LCA or Prevailing Wage Request. We recommend building an additional 1-2 weeks into normal processing times for cases using a private wage survey to account for these steps.
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Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.