A computer consulting company has agreed to pay nearly $1 million in back wages and interest to 135 nonimmigrant workers. The workers are temporarily employed by the organization under the H-1B visa program. The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of the Solicitor reached this agreement after a report from the department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) claimed that the company violated the H-1B program's rules.
A WHD investigator reported several violations, including:
Some employees were not paid any wages at the beginning of their employment.
- Some employees were on a part-time basis despite being hired under a full-time employment status.
- Some employees were paid less than the prevailing wage in the geographic location of their work.
The company, Smartsoft International Inc., contested the investigators findings and requested a formal hearing. As part of this agreement, the company will drop any further challenge, according to the DOL.
About H-1B visas. H-1B visas are issued to individuals who work in specialty areas of expertise (usually highly technical and professional workers such as computer scientists or engineers.)
To obtain H-1B status approval, the employer must first file a Labor Condition Application (LCA), Form ETA 9035 or ETA 9035E, with the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The employer must agree to several conditions, including:
- They will pay the nonimmigrant workers at least the local prevailing wage or the employer's actual wage, whichever is higher.
- They will pay for non-productive time in certain circumstances.
- They will offer benefits on the same basis as for U.S. workers.