The US Labor Department announced a new final rule on Tuesday that would raise the wage requirements for foreign nationals with high-skilled worker visas. DOL’s new final rule follows earlier attempts to raise the prevailing wage rates. As recently as December 2020, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan struck down the Trump Administration’s efforts because they did not follow the necessary procedural steps of considering public feedback. Judge Sullivan said the step was “vital to ensuring informed agency decisions.” The rule is effective 60 days from publication in the Federal Register.
The rule will raise the four salary levels and be gradually phased in beginning July 2021 to allow employers to adjust to the new calculation methods and plan accordingly for payroll, budgeting, and contract obligations.
New OES wage levels starting on July 30, 2021:
- I) 35th percentile; II) 53rd percentile; III) 72nd percentile; IV) 90th percentile
Old OES wage levels:
- I) 17th percentile; II) 34th percentile; III) 50th percentile; IV) 67th percentile
Following this transition period and beginning on July 1, 2024, paragraph (b)(2)(iii)(C)(4) requires that all prevailing wage calculations for job opportunities for which LCAs are filed shall be provided by the OFLC Administrator as specified under paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section. Where the Department is unable to compute a Level IV Wage under paragraph (b)(2)(iii) for an occupation and geographic area due to wage values exceeding the uppermost interval of the OES wage interval methodology, paragraph (b)(2)(iii)(D) specifies that the OFLC Administrator shall determine the Level IV Wage as the highest of (1) the current hourly wage rate applicable to the highest OES wage interval for the specific occupation and geographic area, or (2) the mean of the wages of all workers for the most specific occupation and geographic area available.
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