US Labor Department obtains nearly $1 million in back wages and interest for 135 H-1B Workers

Posted On: September 28, 2010

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office investigated Smartsoft International Inc, a computer consulting company based in Georgia and found the company was not paying their 135 nonimmigrant workers their earned wages as required under the H-1B regulations. The H-1B nonimmigrant visa program sets certain standards to both protect nonimmigrant and US workers; as a part of those standards the company was suppose to pay the nonimmigrant workers at least the equivalent of what other U.S. workers were being paid that had similar knowledge and skill. The Wage and Hour investigator discovered through their investigation that the company had violated the H-1B regulations. Specifically, some employees were not paid any wages at the beginning of their employment, were paid on a part-time basis despite being hired under a full time employment agreement, and were paid less than the prevailing wage applicable to the geographic locations where they performed their work. Accordingly, the investigation has led Smartsoft International to agree to pay their workers around 1 million dollars in back wages.

The H-1B system enables United States employers to seek highly skilled foreigner workers from around the world to increase productivity and develop new innovations within their fields, which ultimately helps the U.S. economy. In return, the U.S. remains at the forefront of technology among other nations of the world, and continues as a major competitor in all other fields. The system was designed to protect both U.S. and foreign workers by: (1) including labor certifications and attestations; (2) implementing costly filing fees, (3) requiring extensive background documentation/proof; and (4) conducting on-site employer investigations and continuous oversight by several federal agencies, as previously stated.

The majority of U.S. employers who utilize the H-1B visa system do obey employment and immigration laws. The employers that abuse the system cause the perception that the system is corrupt, abusive, and a strain on the U.S. economy.