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H1B Fees -- what are the legal arrangements?

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Hi all - first of all compliments for an excellent forum on this topic. Possibly the best on the web. Thanks to all participants.

I am considering the H1B Visa and have received several offers.
Unfortunately only now I realize that there are legal issues with how H1B Fees are paid. It has been difficult for me to find all the relevant legal information on this topic. There seems to be a lot of loosely defined ends and it seems that there are "accepted practices" which are legally forbidden, but since there is no real enforcement (in some cases), companies (& H1B Candidates) just do it...

For the benefit of those who want to do everything strictly legal -- I give below information and ask for your feed-back.

From my understanding there are the following options to H1B Fees payment (and as indicated some are legal and some are not) -- below find a list of the options with my comments.

A) Hiring Company offers to pay the whole lot (includes Government & Immigration Lawyer Fees & rest) and Company bears the cost.
B) Hiring Company offers to pay the whole lot BUT asks for a contract with employee to ensure employee pays back Immigration Lawyer Fees before he leaves the company. The hiring Company bears the cost for Government Fees.

--- these two options appear to be legal
and also: (search string: "fee" or "buy")

C) Hiring Company offers to pay ONLY the Government Fees but asks for immigration lawyer fees to be paid by the prospective employee.

I am not sure if this is legal -- it seems to be so from this document(see search string : "Pitfalls: �Buyer�s� Objections").

the options below appear to be pretty much illegal:

C) Hiring Company offers to pay the whole lot BUT asks for a deposit from the candidate. This money "should" be refunded once the H1B Visa goes through.

A contract is signed between prospective employee and employer.

I believe this is illegal if the company "touches" this money.
Further there are problems, with this approach. What happens if the H1B Visa does NOT go through? (like it for approximately 75'000... last year?).

D) Hiring Company does not pay, prospective employee pays the whole amount. Hiring company does NOT give any guarantee. In some cases only an itemized list of how the money will be used (lawyer fees, etc).

This is illegal because the prospective employee cannot pay Government fees (see references above).

Further, if the Company does not decide to use the money for the H1B Visa, or simply doesn't do the job, or whatever... there is no way you can sue them. According to one legal office I contacted on this matter, they said -- there is very little one can do about this. So your money is just... gone... an no lawyer can really help (!!). Of course one never knows, with American Law some things can change, but the fact is that for MOST cases, this is what will happen... your money is gone.

Now if I may just give my last comment - for someone like me who is trying to decently & legally move to a country (for family reasons). This is just sad - because the H1B process seems to have gone out of hand.

What's your view? Did I list the legal, illegal options correctly? Let me know... thanks
[ January 11, 2008: Message edited by: D ELITOB ]
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Hi Dan,

IMHO the answer is yes AND no.

It is clearly illegal in US for any company to ask money to sponsor employees, for potential abuse is clearly obvious. So from US point of view it is completely illegal.

But the issue is the bodyshoppers, essentially indians, certainly DO NOT have to apply US law on Indian soil, certainly nothing prevents Indian companies to ask money in India to potential sponsorees, and US cannot do anything about this because the Indian subsidiary in US will look to respect US law when sponsoring money is transfered to it for visa application.

So I believe your question is completely meaningless in practice. If you absolutely want to go through bodyshopping so be exploited in US for long hours and low wages, as the vast majority of present H1Bs, then post again and ask to other Indian ranchers to give you names of such sponsoring companies in MP so as to avoid publicly quoting any name.

But simply be aware that going to US through bodyshoppers is completely useless and counter productive considering present situation, chances are scarce for Indians or Chinese to get a GC after an H1B for backlogs are gigantic, so these won't ever get permanent residency.

Best regards.
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Thanks Eric for the valuable information.
Yes - I also believe there is a great deal of exploitation in this type of business. Then again, this is the trend of our Western Economies -- "make money at any cost...". I have seen this going on even in the European country where I come from.

For some candidates an alternative to H1B might be considered:
an E-2 (Investor Visa) or L1 Visas (Intracompany Transfers) these might be an option.

E-2 Visas do require a significant investment of capital (from US$50'000 and higher) and L1 Visas require a company to transfer you to the US.

Below a couple of sites for starters:

for E2 Visas see:

for L1 visas
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