Wage Level Issue RFEs and Denials are common for H-1B jobs set at Level 1 Wages. The reason for this comes in two steps: first, H-1B visas are reserved for foreign nationals working in specialty occupations. These jobs require a bachelor’s degree or higher as a minimum requirement to perform. At the same time, H-1B employers are required to pay H-1B employees the prevailing wage for the job. If the job is set at Level 1 Wages, USCIS assumes that the position is entry level, which does not always require a bachelor’s degree minimum, or that the employer is underpaying the H-1B employee.
Computer programmers have been hit hardest by this issue, and it often comes as a double RFE that forces beneficiaries to address specialty occupation issues as well.
To prevent or answer a wage level issue RFE, the best way to go about this is with a detailed breakdown of the factors that went into determining the wage level. This should be accompanied by wage levels for the same position in the industry in the geographical location. A major factor in setting a low starting wage level is that the H-1B visa program was designed to attract foreign students to US schools by giving them the opportunity to stay in the United States after graduation to work specialty occupations under dual-intent visa status. For this reason, many H-1B employees have the degree for the job, but not the work experience to jump right in without a high level of training and supervision. This factors into making the wage level one determination.
All of this additional evidence must be accompanied by an expert opinion letter written by an expert in the field of the H-1B job with extensive experience working in the field. This experience should include hiring employees to the position in question and to similar positions. This letter will add analysis and credibility to justify the wage level determination. Include this with the initial petition if the job is set at level one wages to prevent an RFE or Denial. If the RFE or Denial has already arrived, include this in the response.
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Sheila Danzig is the executive director of CCI, TheDegreePeople.com. Sheila specializes in overturning RFEs and Denials for work visas.