Don't Get Stuck on the Bench!
The skilled temporary worker visa program, also known as the H-1B visa, allows foreign nationals with advanced skills to take up jobs with good salaries in the United States. The top H-1B issuing posts in the world are Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai, and Indians use the vast majority of H-1B visas. While the vast majority of H-1B employers are responsible users of the program, there are some that engage in fraudulent and unfair practices. Please review your rights and responsibilities as an H-1B worker, and make sure you protect yourself and your family from financial or legal difficulties.
You are entitled to the following rights as an H-1B worker:
- You must be paid at least the prevailing wage, as listed on your Labor Condition Application (LCA) form. This in turn must be the same rate your employer pays other workers with similar experience and qualifications, without regard to nationality.
- You must not be "benched," or have a reduced or suspended wage for non-productive time caused by the employer, or by the lack of a license or permit.
- You must receive the same fringe benefits on the same basis as offered to American employees.
- Your employer may not require you to pay, either directly or indirectly, any part of the petition filing fee, administrative fees, attorney fees or any other costs related to the petition.
- You must not be required to pay a financial penalty for leaving the employer before a date set in the employment contract.
- You should receive the same working conditions (such as hours, shifts, vacations, etc.) on the same basis and criteria as provided to similarly employed U.S. workers.
- Your employer must keep records of the hours you work and the wages you are paid. You should keep your own records as well.
- Your employer may not intimidate, threaten, discharge or otherwise discriminate against any employee, former employee or job applicant for disclosing possible H-1B violations or for cooperating in a compliance investigation.
You have the following responsibilities as an H-1B worker:
- You must provide truthful and correct qualification documents, such as degrees and experience letters, to immigration authorities throughout the visa process.
- You should look out for any possible violations of your rights, as well as violations against colleagues or contacts in the U.S., and avoid those employers.
- If you leave your employer, regardless of who terminated the relationship, you should leave the United States unless you have filed for H-1B status with a new employer.
- You may not enter the United States more than 10 days prior to the petition validity date.
- You must follow U.S. laws and regulations while in the United States.
- Your spouse and other H-4 dependents may not work while in the United States.
If you wish to report H-1B abuse, please contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-4US-WAGE or U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. You can also contact the U.S. Consulate at firstname.lastname@example.org.