DOL seeks public comments on H-1B, foreign workers’ wages

Department of Labor
Photo credit: Department of Labor

Biden administration has delayed Trump proposed final rule to Nov. 14, 2022.

The US Department of Labor (DOL) has sought public comments on sources and methods for determining prevailing wage levels for foreign workers, including those on H-1B visas widely used by Indian professionals.

The department’s request Friday for public comments over the next 60 days follows a March 15 announcement proposing an 18-month delay from May 14, 2021 to Nov. 14, 2022 in the effective date of a final rule changing the computation of prevailing wage levels for certain immigrants and non-immigrant workers.

Published in January, the final rule proposed by the previous Trump administration affects employers seeking to employ foreign workers on a permanent or temporary basis through certain immigrant visas or through H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 non-immigrant visas.

The DOL has sought recommendations, data sources and methods and procedures for informing the development of a possible future rule for establishing prevailing wage levels for these temporary and permanent visa programs

Indians get about 70 percent of 85,000 H-1B visas for high skilled workers issued annually, including 20,000 for those with master’s degrees from US colleges.

The H-1B1 visa is for citizens of Singapore and Chile, while only Australians are eligible for the E-3 visa.

The proposed delay will give agency officials sufficient time to compute and validate prevailing wage data covering specific occupations and geographic areas, complete necessary system modifications and conduct public outreach, DOL said.

On Feb. 4, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Biden administration’s decision to delay implementation of the Trump administration rule for wage based H-1B selection instead of the current lottery system.

The Trump final rule announced on Jan 7 prioritized the higher-paid and higher-skilled foreign workers for H-1B cap-subject visas, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

FAIR, the country’s largest immigration reform organization has opposed the Biden administration’s decision to postpone implementation of the Trump era rule.

The Trump rule “would reduce abuse of the H-1B program by unscrupulous employers while also protecting American workers,” it said in a public comment on March 10 to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

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