This is an agreement with the Department of Labor (which is important to note that this is not part of YOUR immigration process yet, this is between the employer and the DOL) that effectively says “We want to employ someone on an E3, in this title of job, and at this rate, is that ok?”
The LCA itself contains:
- Who the company is and their official tax identification (the only company you can work for in the US under the E3);
- Contact details for a representative from the company;
- The official title of the job they are employing someone for;
- What category that job fits into;
- The prevailing wage code for that position;
- The wage that they will pay for the position (which must be more than the prevailing wage).
All of this leads to a document that, when certified, makes up possibly the most important document in the whole E3 visa process.
Why getting on top of the LCA early is important
At this point, if your employer is slow to file the LCA, it delays the whole process – including your potential start date. Make sure you’re available by phone and email to respond quickly to any questions your employer has. Your start date can't be adjusted once it's certified so put it far enough out to have time to get an interview and enter the US, but not too far away that you need to idle around before starting (because you can only enter the US within 10 days of starting). Keep reading for some more tips on what start date you should use based on when you get an interview.
Finding out your prevailing wage
The most complicated part of the LCA is the prevailing wage because it commonly trips people up. You basically need to be paid more than a certain amount of money to qualify. It can be calculated by going to the FLCDataCenter website and running through the “Wage Search Wizard”. This will ask your state and your county, and then you search or select your occupation from a list.
Once you find the list of job titles (click here for an example) on FLCDataCenter, there are a few things to note: first is the code in blue which is the “SOC Code” which you will need later. Clicking that will take you through to ONetOnline, another great resource that can confirm that this title of job requires a Bachelor's Degree (a requirement for the E3) if you scroll down to the Education section. It doesn't need to be 100% but needs to be common that you require a Bachelor's or greater training.
Secondly, you can click “View Wages for” which will show you the levels of wage requirement, and a rate per hour and a rate per year, based on the “Level” (one through four, ignore the Mean Wage). Level 1 means an entry-level experience at this job, level 2 is relevant education and experience, Level 3 is experience employees with a deeper understanding (e.g. management) and Level 4 are experts (e.g. senior management).
You must earn more than this amount for the level that corresponds to your application to qualify. Which level you pick is up to you, and it's best to discuss how this works with an immigration attorney.
How to file the LCA online with the Department of Labor
When they’re ready, your employer will file the form online at Foreign Labor Application Gateway, an online portal. Certification takes 5-10 business days.
The employer then needs to keep an eye on the status of the LCA on the certification website. If you don’t hear anything at 5-6 business days, I suggest asking your employer to log in and check the status one week after the LCA has been filed (becuase the Deparment of Labor are really good at getting things back on time).
How to check the status of your LCA
If you want to check the status of your LCA yourself, use the LCA number you received above and go to Foreign Labor Application Gateway. Scroll down the page to “Search iCERT” and use the “Case Status Check”.
If it still says certification is “in process”, I recommend having your employer check back daily to make sure the process moves as quickly as possible.