American Samoans who sponsor foreigners have been told the people they bring in to provide domestic help are entitled to the minimum wage.
Up until now, families bringing in relatives from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Asian countries to help with chores are usually not given regular wages but form part of the household and receive meals and lodging.
But a team from the United States Department of Labor conducting public awareness on federal labour laws has told the immigration office that the live-in workers are covered by the minimum wage law.
The Director of the Wage and Hour Division in Hawaii, Terrence Trotter, says legal offsets can be applied, but the foreigner is entitled to the minimum wage.
"They're freeing up members of the household to allow themselves to go out and engage in commerce or private sector jobs and as such we recognise under section 2a of the Federal Fair Labour Standards Act that they are entitled to a minimum wage."