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How to Determine the "Prevailing Wage" in a Labor Certification Application

Hi William,

How to determine the "prevailing wage" in a Labor Certification application? Does my employer must pay the listed prevailing wage on the Labor Certification?


The prevailing wage determination issued by the Department of Labor’s National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC), establishes the minimum wage the employer must pay to the sponsored employee at the time he or she receives their green card. Obtaining a prevailing wage determination (PWD) for the sponsored green card position is a mandatory step that must be completed prior to filing Form 9089, the PERM Labor Certification Application.

The prevailing wage determination by DOL will tell the employer how much is normally paid to people in jobs equivalent to the one the foreign national has been offered. The determination is good for only a limited amount of time, depending partly on when the DOL does its annual updating of wage information.

Finding out the prevailing wage is a crucial step, because the employer must offer at least this amount in the labor certification process. Even if the employer is offering a wage the DOL would find appropriate, a PERM labor certification application can be denied if the DOL learns that no formal PWD was issued. This is different from the process of obtaining an H-1B or other nonimmigrant work visa, where no formal DOL statement of prevailing wages is absolutely required.

Because many factors go into a wage determination, such as geographic location, job title, discipline, job duties, required education, and so on, it is not possible to predict the exact amount of the prevailing wage until the DOL provides it. The employer is obligated to pay the sponsored employee either the prevailing wage or the offered salary, whichever is higher, at the time they receive their green card. The required wage must also be used during the recruitment portion of the PERM process.

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