Before the employer can file an ETA Form 9089 for a PERM labor certification, they must request a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC). The employer must pay at least the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment.
In order to get the labor certificate approved, the wage being offered to the alien must meet the U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL) prevailing wage standards. As many employers are not comfortable advertising the exact wages, a range of wages may be posted. The wage being offered (in case of using a range, the bottom of the range) should not fall below the prevailing wage for the job title. The wage may not include commissions or bonuses unless they are guaranteed. Minimum requirements for the job opportunity must be carefully analyzed and should be consistent with the standards established by the DOL for job duties and requirements. Preventing immigrant labor from depressing the wages for American workers is one of the major reasons for the complexity of this process, and the failure of an employer to offer the prevailing wage is almost certain to seriously jeopardize the employee’s application process.
The prevailing wage calculator shows the prevailing wages and levels based on the employer’s minimum requirements and zip code of the work location.
The employer is required to include the following prevailing wage information on the application form ETA 9089:
- The prevailing wage;
- The prevailing wage tracking number (if applicable);
- THE SOC / O*NET (OES) code;
- The occupation title;
- The skill level;
- The wage source;
- The determination date; and
- The expiration date.
The proposed wage being offered to the beneficiary must be at least equal to this prevailing wage.
The Department of Labor (DOL) defines the PERM prevailing wage as “the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specified occupation in the area of intended employment”. Several factors are taken into account for determining the prevailing wage for a specific position.
The Online Wage Library, based on the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey, can be used by the DOL to determine the PERM prevailing wage.
The DOL can also determine the prevailing wage by matching the offered posting with the geographic location, education, experience, skillset, and required supervision. For example, this means that the prevailing wages in Sunnyvale, California, would be quite different than in Abilene, Texas, for the same position.
Alternatively, an employer can request that the prevailing wage determination be based on an approved private wage survey, as long as it meets several DOL regulations.
The PERM prevailing wages request must be made via DOL’s FLAG Website, as their previous iCert system was decommissioned in 2020.
The employer is required to pay 100% of the prevailing wage to the foreign worker. The employer is always allowed to pay more, but no less.
In any case, it is important to know that the employer is required to pay a minimum of the prevailing wage only after the permanent residence is approved, which typically takes many years.
PERM Prevailing Wage Validity Period
A PERM Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) is valid only for 90 days to one year since the U.S. economy changes frequently. Therefore, the employer must submit a PERM application within the validity period of PERM PWD.
It is important to know that the prevailing wage generally changes annually.
The employer should also complete the recruitment efforts within 90 days before filing the PERM application.
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