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H-1B: the voices behind the visa

Tracy Mayor | Nov. 17, 2010
This article is part of our special report on the 20th anniversary of the H-1B visa, which also includes first-person accounts from five IT workers who have been directly affected by the H-1B program and visual and interactive tools to help you analyze H-1B visa data.

At the consultancy, if you get $100, you have to pay $40 to them; it's a 40-60 split. Their policy is that they hold one month's salary. I talked to my friends. They said it's the way these companies run; it happens other places. But after two months I was still not getting payment, and my own money was running out. I said to them, "Give me my salary, give me some money," and they said, "We will when we see the money from the client."

I told my boss, and they agreed to hire me and sponsor my H-1B. They said, "Tell us how much you're getting from the consultancy, and we'll pay you that." That's good because there are benefits, which the consultancy doesn't pay.

When I told the consultancy I was resigning because I was not getting my salary from them, they said, "We will deport you." I was new in the U.S. and didn't want any legal tension. I saw so many things like this happen in Bahrain. In the end, my company handled everything, which was very good fortune for me. They paid almost $20,000 to settle the issue.

I have a better life here in the United States, and I tried to pull my brother here. I paid another consultancy firm almost $4,000 to bring him here. At the last minute, they said, "We cannot get a client letter" [showing he had a job waiting, which is necessary for H-1B approval], but they didn't return my money. This money was a really big amount for me. I was very angry at that time, but I couldn't drop everything to fight this. I didn't want to have to pay a lawyer and lose more money.

The consultancies are 90% of the problem. Definitely there should be a proper audit, where they show the money received from the client, show the money they pay us. Every six months or quarterly they should have to send a salary list to the government.

Brian L.

'Chop shop is a very appropriate term.'

I'm an independent consultant. I have my own firm. I originally implemented an ERP system for [a global medical products and services company] 12 years ago, and they brought me back last year to do an upgrade and consolidation. I was responsible for producing the functional specifications. I was managing seven H-1B [visa holders] in my area of the project.

The company hired [a white-shoe American consulting firm], who turned around and brought in [a large Indian IT service provider] to actually do the coding, a mix of onshore and off. The [service provider] lowballed to get the bid. The bid went to a vote, and four out of the five VPs at the medical services firm voted no; they said, "Let's use our resources who have been here 10-plus years." But the CIO overruled them. The bottom line was, it's cheaper labor.


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