H-1B Workers Held Hostage by Unscrupulous H-1B Employer


What power does an employer have over his H-1B non-immigrant employees? The answer is that an employer can wield significant power by creative, unscrupulous behavior.

Yesterday, I was hired by a computer programmer from India, who worked for this company headquartered in Florida. He is switching to a new H-1B employer today, but he had quite a story to tell.

First, the employer allegedly started investment schemes in Florida and India, getting many H-1B workers to invest in various companies that he creates, only to end up losing most of their money.

Second, my client says that the employer keeps the I-797 and does not give employees pay stubs. The pay stubs are critical because USCIS often requires pay stubs in order to switch H-1B employers. The employer is keeping all of these documents so its employees won’t be able to leave, essentially holding them hostage.

Once the employer has the employee as “hostages”, he starts to cut their pay and short their pay checks, or not pay them at all. So, the employee gets cheated on wages, but cannot switch to a new employer because the employer won’t give the documents that USCIS often requires. This creates quite a conundrum.

While H-1B workers from India think that pay stubs and the I-797 is a requirement, there are ways to switch H-1B employers even without these documents. There is no reason to stay with an unscripulous employer. Plus, the worker can get a copy of the I-797 approval notice by doing a FOIA request to USCIS. In addition, any time a specific piece of evidence is unavailable, a lawyer can help to craft other evidence to support a switch of H-1B employers.

Our law firm represents foreign workers both in immigration cases as well as in employment law cases. We will be contacting the employer on behalf of our client from India, seeking all back wages, lost money from the investment scheme, and the $6000 for immigration services that our client paid and which was to be refunded after working 2000 hours. The total claim exceeds $100,000.

This post originally appeared on Coane And Associates. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Bruce Coane

Bruce Coane is a Houston employment lawyer, Houston immigration lawyer, Miami employment lawyer and Miami immigration lawyer with offices in Texas and Florida. He may be reached at bruce.coane@gmail.com, 713-850-0066 or 305-538-6800.

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