DOL Salary Survey Considerations


When a U.S. employer wants to hire a foreign worker under a work visa program, such as the H-1B Programthey are required to demonstrate that they will pay the foreign worker at least the amount “prevailing wage” for the occupational classification of the geographic region where the work will be performed. This prevailing wage is generally determined based on wage surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

In some cases, employers may use private wage surveys (conducted by private organizations or entities) to determine prevailing wages instead of relying on data published by the DOL. This can be a complex process and employers must follow specific guidelines established by the DOL. Private sector salary surveys must meet certain standards and the methodology used in the survey must be subject to review to ensure its accuracy and reliability.

Since private sector salary surveys may be subject to greater scrutiny, here are some considerations for companies that use a private organization to determine prevailing wage rates:

Risks involved:

  • Consult your immigration legal team or other immigration expert before requesting private salary investigations for immigration matters.
  • Although private salary surveys are an alternative to DOL salary data, nuances exist and an immigration attorney is best equipped to provide guidance.

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Existing providers or subscriptions:

  • Inform your legal team if your company uses a salary survey vendor for internal compensation decisions.
  • Your immigration advisor will assess the suitability of this survey provider for immigration matters.
  • If your company does not have a subscription, your legal team can help you identify a suitable survey provider if necessary.


  • Subscribing to a survey provider and obtaining individual survey reports will incur additional fees.
  • Employers with existing subscriptions can minimize costs.
  • Work with your legal team to identify upcoming immigration issues (e.g., green card adjustment of H-1B status cases, transfers or renewals) to request and strategically reuse investigative reports, thereby reducing overall expenses.


  • Be mindful of additional timing considerations when requesting a private salary survey.
  • Once work details, agreements and payments are finalized and the survey is requested, expect several business days to receive the report before filing the request. Request for working conditions (LCA) or request for prevailing wage.
  • Allow for an additional one to two weeks beyond normal processing times for cases using a private salary survey to accommodate these steps.
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