H-1B Wage Requirements
Wages are a cornerstone of H-1B sponsorship eligibility. The Department of Labor (DOL) requires that employee’s wage is the higher of the prevailing wage or the actual wage. Boise State University cannot support an H-1B petition if the wage is below that level.
Departments must provide up-to-date information about wages and the job description as part of the H-1B department application packet. The Center for Global Engagement (CGE) uses this information to calculate whether the salary requirements meet DOL minimums.
DOL sets the prevailing wage based on the job’s requirements and the salary rate being paid by academic institutions in the same metropolitan area as the employee’s worksite. DOL adjusts prevailing wage rates on an annual basis, sometimes substantially. As a result, the prevailing wage for a first H-1B may be different from the prevailing wage calculated for an H-1B extension.
Determination of a prevailing wage typically takes CGE staff 1-2 weeks. However, if the job requirements are complex, it may take 2-4 months to request a wage determination directly from DOL.
The actual wage is the wage of other employees with similar experience and qualifications in that position at Boise State University. A department can only use objective criteria in calculating the actual wage. Examples of objective criteria are experience, education, specialized knowledge, job responsibility and function. Other examples are access to and use of equipment that requires specialized training, and other legitimate business factors.
If other employees in the department have the same qualifications and job duties as the H-1B employee, then the actual wage is the wage of those employees (this may be a range). If there are no other similarly employed workers then the employee’s wage is the actual wage.
Public Access Files
The Center for Global Engagement keeps records about the prevailing wage as part of a mandatory Public Access File. Additionally, DOL may ask the university to provide evidence of the actual wage, such as payroll records of other similarly employed workers in the department. The university can face harsh penalties for failing to comply with the Department of Labor wage requirements. This includes fines, back pay, and a retraction of the university’s ability to hire foreign nationals. Therefore it is very important that the information in the Department’s H-1B packet is complete and accurate, so that we are able to calculate the prevailing and actual wage correctly.