back to article Tech outfits sue Uncle Sam over 'unlawful' H-1B admission charges totaling $350m over six years

A bunch of tech companies are suing the US government, alleging it illegally charged them an extra $350m in visa fees. The businesses – iTech, SmartWorks, and Saxon Global – teamed up with trade body ITService Alliance to file a class-action lawsuit against Uncle Sam's Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is claimed the …

  1. BillG
    Megaphone

    Avoiding Fees?

    If they come into the USA with an H1-B Visa status, the Schumer amendment states the company must pay $4,000.

    So instead, these companies are having the immigrants come to the U.S.A. under a different visa, then once in the USA changing the status to H1-B to avoid the $4,000 fee.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Avoiding Fees?

      That would be one interpretation of the story, yes.

      Another possibility is that people entered the country independently, as (say) students, and were only employed by the companies much later.

      I don't see anything in the story to support either of these interpretations over the other.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Avoiding Fees?

      I would say that's exactly the case.

      They were deliberately trying to avoid the fees. In other words, fraud.

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Avoiding Fees?

      From what I remember from my time with H1-B stuff, you were required to apply for H1-B from outside the US, so if there is now a requirement to pay $4K, and they try to change status inside the country, I'd say that CBP is applying the rule correctly. JMO.

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Avoiding Fees?

      It may be changing details from one H-1B visa to another version of an equivalent visa, i.e. hiring someone who was already employed by someone else.

      On the other hand, "border fee" may be either a charge representing actual costs related to immigration, or just what it's called.

      There has been fuss recently in the UK about a charge related to leasehold property called "marriage value". As far as I can tell, this has nothing whatsoever to do with marriage. It is just called that.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Avoiding Fees?

        "There has been fuss recently in the UK about a charge related to leasehold property called "marriage value". As far as I can tell, this has nothing whatsoever to do with marriage. It is just called that."

        It's the marriage between the property and the longer lease.

        Marriage means bringing together. When the body of a car is attached to the chassis, it's also called the marriage, for example.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the 'cheap' labour turns out to be not so cheap after all?

    <rolls eyes>

    Should have employed locally then!

    PHB's eh? Classic.

  3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Fees vs Costs

    When I had an H1-B visa back in the 70's the visa was valid for a year, then it had to be renewed and I had to fly back to the UK to pick up a new visa because they were not issued in the US. So I got a nice weeks holiday, paid for by the company that I worked for. The net result of the current scheme is that the costs to the company of employing me would be about the same under both schemes - except I would not get a little holiday every year.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Fees vs Costs

      Hmmm....must check my old passports as I am sure I had Multiple Entry - Indefinite visas for business purposes. May be worth trying to get them onto my current passport so I could got to the US and work.......

      Or maybe just look at them as a reminder of better times and avoid chats with TSA/CBP etc

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Fees vs Costs

        That was probably not an H1-B, but likely a B-1. H1-B is a limited work visa that binds you to the employer who applied for it on your behalf. The L1 visa is an unrestricted work visa (that allows you to change employers at will), the B-1 is a 'you're just here temporarily to do business' visa.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fees vs Costs

          Nope, L-1 visas are "intra-company transfer" so they only work to transfer from a foreign division of a company to the same company in the USA such as Acme UK -> Acme USA. You have to have worked for the company outside the US first. So you can't change employer at will, at least not to any company you did not work for overseas for one year in the last 3 years.

          In terms of this case, a pretty large number of foreign graduates get hired in the USA on H-1 visas after studying under F visas at (US) universities. So F-1 to H-1 is probably common.

          Still not sure they will (or should) escape this fee though.

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