Prevailing Wage (Immigration) Law and Legal Definition

Prevailing Wage refers to the hourly wage, employment benefits and overtime, paid for a worker in a specific field, in the county in which a foreign national will be employed. The prevailing wage rate is defined as the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in a specific occupation in the area of intended employment.

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the hiring of a foreign worker should not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers comparably employed. In order to comply with the statute, the Department's regulations require that the wages offered to a foreign worker should be the prevailing wage rate for the occupational classification in the area of employment.

The requirement to pay prevailing wages as a minimum is true in the case of most employment based visa programs involving the Department of Labor. In addition, the H1B, H1B1, and E3 programs require that the employer should pay the prevailing wage or the actual wage paid by the employer to workers with similar skills and qualifications, whichever is higher.