TagH1B visa

H1-B Work Permit Approved

H1-B Approval Notice

When for someone a simple task such as getting an Post-Graduation OPT turned into a mind-wrecking time, this notice is especially sweet. Especially given the fact that it took just over a week after I submitted it. Perhaps USCIS felt a twinge of pity and meted out karmic justice. Or perhaps I should wait until the document is produced and mailed to me.

Desis to blame for the ban on foreign workers amendment?

In response to this post on decision of the government to ban foreign workers from bailed out companies, a reader writes:

The biggest problem [regarding H1-B visas] with big companies, is that they are just too big and these things just pass under the radar. Most of people working here are desis, and desis won’t complain against their own managers / colleagues for practicing this, simply because it doesnt affect them. The biggest problem with big companies like (insert big tech company name here) is that there is just way too much power with managers. Once the chain of desi managers is built from VP – Director – Senior Manager – Manager, then its almost impossible to break the chain.

What’s worse is the amount of regional groupism that exists in these companies beyond these H1 issues; we have teams of 14-20 people where in every single member of the team is from one region (Read: Chennai, or Hyderabad). Team meetings are sometimes conducted in regional languages; I fail to understand how is it possible that an entire team of managers and his reportees manage to be from one geographical area from India.

Desi politics and bureaucracy rule in this part of the world – just like working in desh. If you don’t lick up to your boss, however good you may perform, you are always an underachiever – on the other hand if you are boss’s best buddy, you can sail through. Your promotion depends on “visibility” and “impressions” on other managers, not your performance. Staying late is a good sign, but not getting your work done before time.

For an average American, all this comes across as really dubious and shameful. There’s a reason why there is a developing sense of anger against Indians, especially amongst educated & qualified Americans. It has been years of such lousy behavior that has engulfed at least the Bay area, and dangers to take over the IT sector completely that is making Americans treat Indians with contempt and anger. I sometimes don’t blame them. If I were in their shoes and had to watch this kind of charade everyday at workplace, I’d ask my senator and government to stop hiring foreigners too.

I believe that this is a technology industry experience. Do any of you also working in the industry have similar experiences? What about other industries? If you think commenting can be dangerous to your employment, write to me and I will exclude all personal details, like I have done with the above email, before I share.

Can H1-B and F1 visa holders earn money online?

There are plenty of students and working professionals who are in the United States on an H1-B or F1 visa respectively. As in our recently concluded survey on DesiPundit, we noticed that many such individuals follows blogs closely and are also bloggers themselves. Chances are that they have chosen to monetize their blog either through Adsense or other advertising channels. The question, asked by Confused early Saturday morning was whether such income earned through blogs was legitimate and allowed under our visa status.

He sent me this link that explored the question of earning money via Adsense while being on a H1-B visa. The post cited well-known immigration attorney Shiela Murthy in the context of the 1099 tax form that you get for your Adsense or other online earnings:

A person on an H1B is not allowed to work on a 1099 at all. One who is on an EAD is allowed to work as an independent contractor if s/he is the I-485 dependent on the EAD and not the principal applicant for the Green Card, to be on the safe side. If the total time working was less than 180 days, there is possible hope to obtain the I-485 in the U.S. Otherwise, it adds complications and will not generally allow the person to obtain an approval of the I-485 from within the U.S. You should consult an immigration attorney to discuss this issue since it could have serious consequences.

So basically, if you are on a H1-B visa, you are authorized to work for only one those employers that sponsor your visa. You cannot be self-employed and earn additional income and doing so will render you out-of-status. Note that the I-485 mentioned above is a preliminary step in your Green Card processing. So what about F1 students? I did some digging around since that would directly affect a lot of students that blog and monetize their blogs. One respondent on an immigration visa forum said the following in response to 1099-related question for F1 visa holders:

An F1 visa does not allow you to take off campus employment anywhere or anytime you want. You can only take employment under specific circumstances, such as through OPT or CPT and there are hardship provisions too. But generally, an F1 student cannot simply go out and find employment. This is illegal. I would encourage you not to do this because it is a violation of your status.

That a student cannot work off-campus [during semesters] is common knowledge but is your blog earnings also off-campus? Well, technically it is since you are getting paid as a consultant by another company e.g. Google, Text Link Ads, Yahoo, etc. You can only earn money outside of your on-campus employment if you earn interest off your investments (movable and/or immovable) or savings. Visible Blog recommends another (risky) way by which you can register a company and hire someone at minimum wages to ‘run’ your blog. Your ‘company’ would earn money and you get a ‘passive’ income. However, as the blog rightly mentions, it is a risk. And you definitely don’t want to do that unless you are earning thousands everyday.

So what do you do? Should you yank off your monetizing avenues off your blog? If you hate any kind of risk then probably that is the best thing to do. However, the bureaucratic mess that the BCIS and IRS are, chances are that they never share information. Better still, if you earn less than $600 [per advertising program], you still have to report it. I’m sure most of us don’t earn that much. But if you do, you might want to either remove that option which I understand can be akin to killing the golden goose.

Finally, if you are earning $600 or less per advertising program, you might slip under the radar but understand that it is a risk and it might only be a problem if you are planning on applying for a Green Card later on. This is not legal advice and I don’t profess any deep knowledge on immigration law so if you know better, please feel free to discuss in the comments.

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