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Navigating H1B Eligibility: Understanding H1B Minimum Salary Requirements

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The outcome of the 2025 H1B lottery was announced on April 1st. Following the lottery, many applicants will have to get their H1B applications ready for submission. However, being selected in the lottery does not automatically mean you will obtain an H1B visa. To successfully secure an H1B visa, it’s crucial to meet all the criteria established by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), including those related to the minimum salary and specialty occupations.

Previously, we released an article on specialty occupation requirements for H1B. In this article, we will focus on the H1B minimum salary requirements. 

Minimum Salary Requirements for H1B

The USCIS requires that H1B workers be employed in specialty occupations, with salaries meeting particular requirements. These salary requirements are designed to prevent foreign employees from being used as “cheap labor” that could potentially displace local workers. 

To satisfy the minimum requirements for H1B, your annual salary must meet both of the following criteria: (1) The actual wage for your job; and (2) the prevailing wage for your job (with a general minimum wage threshold of $60,000).

To qualify for an H1B, applicants must meet both requirements, adhering to the higher of the two. 

1. Actual Wage

The actual wage is the wage rate paid by a company or institution to employees whose titles, qualifications, and job duties are similar to those of the H-1B beneficiary. It is determined based on factors such as experience, education, and job responsibility. 

2. Prevailing Wage

The general threshold for an H1B is an annual salary of $60,000. This minimum requirement applies regardless of your occupation, work location, and job level. 

However, the actual prevailing wage for your job position could be higher than this amount. In such cases, you are required to meet the higher wage requirement

How, then, is the prevailing wage determined?

The prevailing wage is determined based on multiple factors, including work location, job requirements, and job level.  ​We can say that the actual prevailing wage reflects the average salary for a particular position in a geographical area.

  • Disciplinary Area

The prevailing wage varies across various occupations. Some lucrative fields might have higher prevailing wages. For instance, fields that are considered more lucrative, such as technology, often have higher prevailing wages compared to other sectors. This is because the specialized skills and expertise required in these fields are in high demand, driving up the average salary.

  • Job Requirement

The level of education and specialization required for a job also influences its prevailing wage. Positions that demand an advanced degree, like a master's, generally entail higher prevailing wages than those where a bachelor's degree suffices. Furthermore, jobs that necessitate unique skills within specific disciplines might also have higher prevailing wages. 

  • Location

The prevailing wage of a job varies with location, influenced by the cost of living in the area. Positions in high-cost areas usually have higher prevailing wages than the same roles in lower-cost regions. For example, the prevailing wage for an engineer in a high-cost state like California would likely exceed that in a lower-cost state such as Kansas. 

As shown in the following pictures, the prevailing wage for the position of sales manager is higher in California than in New Mexico.

  • Job Level

Another factor that influences the prevailing wage is job level. The USCIS has established four levels of pay for H1B visa employees:

    • Wage Level 1 – Lower – Entry-level
    • Wage Level 2- Moderate- Qualified
    • Wage Level 3- Higher- Experienced
    • Wage Level 4- Highest- Advanced

Enforced by the Department of Labor, this Wage Setting Policy includes guidelines for employers to determine appropriate wage rates. As demonstrated in the pictures above, a senior position classified as Level 4 has a higher prevailing wage than a position at Level 2.

Thus, while the general threshold for H1B is an annual salary of $60,000, the actual prevailing wage for your job might exceed this amount. This is particularly true for senior positions in regions with a high cost of living, where the wage requirement for H1B could notably surpass the $60,000 threshold.

Note: If you are employed part-time and your annual salary falls short of the requirements, you may still qualify by meeting the corresponding hourly wage rate requirements.

How to Check the Prevailing Wage of Your Job?

You can check the prevailing wage for your job by consulting FLCDataCenter (Foreign Labor Certification Data Center).

Step 1: Enter the home page and click “Wage Search Wizard.”

Step 2: Choose your work location from the list.

Step 3: Choose the area where you are based; either enter a keyword or phrase from your job title or select your occupation code from the list. 

Step 4: Check the prevailing wage rate for your job level.

You can also refer to wage data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to compare the median annual wages across different occupations. However, keep in mind that the FLC Data Center is the definitive source for determining salary requirements for H1B.

What Types of Income Count Toward the H1B Wage Requirements?

The types of income qualified for counting toward the H1B minimum wage requirements include:

  • Base Salary
  • Bonuses and Incentive Payments (must be guaranteed and documented in the terms of employment)
  • Overtime Pay (applicable to jobs that typically requires overtime work; must be guaranteed and meet the requirements under applicable laws)
  • Allowances and Stock Options (must be documented and can be converted into cashable value)

The types of income that may not count toward the H1B minimum wage requirements include:

  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Non-Guaranteed Bonuses
  • Non-Guaranteed Allowances
  •  The Employer’s Business Expenses (such as H1B filing fees)

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