Dealing with the Level 1 Wages RFE this Year and Next


This year, we all met the Level 1 Wages RFE that targeted H1B computer programmers working at Level 1 Wages. We're still answering these RFEs, and it's almost time to file again.

First, let's look at the Level 1 Wages RFE:

Until this year, CIS has left computer programmers at Level 1 Wages alone when it comes to how their pay grade reflects the specialization of their job. Now, CIS is claiming that computer programming positions at Level 1 Wages are entry level positions. This is not the case – wage levels don't work like that. There are many other factors to consider when it comes to setting wage levels, particularly for new employees. Entering a new job always requires a heightened level of supervision on the part of the employer, which impact wage levels. Starting a new job fresh out of a bachelors degree program with the necessary skills and knowledge but little to no direct work experience in the field also requires a heightened level of supervision and training on the part of the employer. Here's the catch: these factors set wage levels low to start working, and to start working H1B visa status is needed.

CIS sees that a computer programming position is set at Level 1 Wages and claims that the job is not specialized to meet H1B requirements that state a job must require a minimum of a US bachelors degree or its equivalent to qualify. The US Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook states that employers will sometimes hire entry level computer programmers with less than a US bachelors degree as a minimum requirement, stating that only an associates is needed. CIS uses this passage as justification to reject the petition.

There are two problems with this: First, as discussed earlier, this reasoning assumes that a job set at Level 1 Wages is inherently entry level. This is not true. Proving this to CIS in the RFE response requires a detailed job description and employer support letter, along with an expert opinion letter that explains wage levels and educational requirements for the industry. Second, that same passage in the Occupational Outlook Handbook states that employers usually require a minimum of a bachelors degree even for entry level computer programming positions. This reference also must be included in the RFE response.

As we're wrapping up RFE season, we're coming right up on filing season. While we won't know whether preventative measures will work for this RFE until next RFE season, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of dealing with the Level 1 Wages RFE again. If the job can be set at Level 2 Wages, or the job title can be classified as a different occupation, including these changes in the petition and on the LCA may help prevent the Level 1 Wages RFE. Remember, the LCA and the petition must be consistent, so whatever you enter in the LCA must be the same in the petition. The job title must match the job description, so it's important to be very careful when taking this preemptive measure. We can consult with you on this. If can also be helpful to include an expert opinion letter from an RFE response in the initial petition to clear up the misconception about Level 1 Wages and entry level positions from the start.

To preempt RFEs that we have seen coming in after having answered the Level 1 Wages RFE, it's always a good idea to include a thorough credential evaluation in the initial H1B petition to close any gaps between your or your employee or client's education and their H1B job. Foreign degrees, incomplete or nonexistent college education, and generalized degrees or degrees in specializations that are not an exact match for the job title all require credential evaluations to clearly show CIS that the education meets H1B requirements. If you're not sure whether you or your employee or client meets H1B educational requirements, let us review the case before you file in April.

About The Author

Sheila Danzig is the Executive Director of CCI,, a foreign credentials evaluation agency. For a free analysis of any difficult case, RFE, Denial, or NOID, please go to or call 800.771.4723.

If you or your employee or client received a Level 1 Wages RFE, we can help. Simply send the following documents to :

  • LCA
  • Beneficiary resume and educational documents
  • Employer support letter
  • Detailed description of the job and its duties
  • RFE
  • We will get back to you within 48 hours with a full review of the case and our recommendations for how to respond.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.