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September 21, 2004
Foreign Workers Get Back Wages for Visa Fees

Ajilon Consulting, based in Towson, Maryland, has agreed to pay $466,483 in back wages to 202 temporary foreign workers employed as computer specialists after Department of Labor investigators said the company violated federal rules by requiring workers to reimburse the company for paying their visa application fees.

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The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division in Detroit conducted an investigation of an Ajilon Consulting branch office in Southfield, Michigan, and says it found that H-1B non-immigrant workers were required to reimburse the company for paying their visa application fees. The regulations that implement the H1-B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act require that the employer, and not the employees, pay these fees.

The department says Ajilon Consulting cooperated fully in the investigation and agreed to conduct a self-audit under the Labor Department's supervision. The company agreed to pay all of the back wages by November 2004 and agreed to comply with the H-1B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act in the future. The H-1B workers were employed in 26 states.

The H-1B visa program provides an avenue for U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in high skilled jobs such as computer programmers, engineers, and medical doctors. The law requires companies to pay temporary foreign workers the same wage rates as similarly employed U.S. workers, so as not to adversely affect U.S. workers.

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