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I have been in my current job for past 5 years working under the same line manager in a multinational organization. I was working from offshore office for the past 4 years and my manager was in US. I was very happy with my salary and work life balance there.

Last year, I relocated to US office for the same company under the same line manager. During salary finalization, I raised the concern of low salary being offered, to my manager (offshore salary doesn't really work in US because of the rate conversions, cost of living etc, so I was offered US based salary, minimum wage). He told me, it still is a rare opportunity for me and I should focus more on just getting there for now and once I am here, he will talk to his boss and get me to market level after my first annual appraisal.

Against my better judgement, I accepted his suggestion, signed the letter since he has been more of a friend to me than a boss. While working from US office, I subtly brought the topic of my low salary, here and there and just basically reminded him of what he promised but I made sure to keep my balance there, didn't bring it up too many times to make it seem like I am very unhappy or just am complaining all the time.

My manager isn't really in control of the figures and his boss is basically the department head with budget who decides what everybody gets, but my manager has the authority and basically can convince his boss to give me & other reportees, the desired salary.

Fast forward to appraisal, I only got about 2% increment while for the past year, both my manager and I agreed that he will try for at least 15%. Since, appraisals aren't shared with line managers in my company, so my line manager didn't know what I got. Devastated at increment, I called him up and just shared what I received. He was shocked as well and told me that he will talk to his boss right away. He did call him and after 30 mins called me back. I was hoping that he would tell me something positive, instead he started giving me the corporate excuses like "Buddy you came in March, 2023 and since it has only been 9 months and that company didn't do all to well this year. People who come from offshore office, usually have tough couple of years at start. Even, I only got 5 % increment myself... ". I was extremely disappointed and frustrated at this and I, as patiently and calm I could be at that moment, conveyed to him that "I am not happy at this and am extremely disappointed". I think what disappointed me the most was that despite him always acknowledging that I am being payed very less, and even right before talking to his boss, he was shocked and agreed with me on 2% increment but then somehow after his call with his boss, he was basically convincing me otherwise.

He knows all too well the level of effort I put into my role and went above and beyond my JD just to keep my clients happy. Managed projects which were not even part of my JD to help the org. So my disappointment was just in my opinion.

After hearing my feedback, he basically said he'll try one more time with his boss and hanged up the call. His tone changed, I waited on him to bring it up (after he supposedly had that one final discussion with his boss) since I didn't want to make things worse with him. It has been more than 2 weeks now he didn't bring that topic again and is not talking to me properly and only talks about work related things in a very, "to the point" manner. while this may sound normal to people, this isn't how it has been for the past 5 years. This frustrates me even more. Still I tried to fix our relationship and told him that I understand that he did everything he could and don't hold him responsible and even apologized to him for showing my disappointment. This seems to have made no visible change in his behavior.

I am wondering what are my options at this point? I want to fix my standing with my manager whom I still respect and have a lot to be thankful for and I also want him/some else, to fix my salary. Living here with the initial salary and that minimal increment, is really tough for me.

Changing job isn't really a best case for me since I am on H1B non immigrant visa and finding a new reliable company that can transfer and sponsor my visa isn't really a very smooth process. Plus, staying at my current company will help in my naturalization process as well. I know the obvious step is to go and really sincerely apologize to my manager but through this, I feel like I will lose the salary increment case. It would be as if I am letting go off the salary issue and making my peace with him. What should I try at this point?

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    If they are severely underpaying you vs market salaries because you are on an H1B they are in violation of US immigration law and can be heavily fined and your visa cancelled. You could say “I’m just worried that if I’m not paid market rate we could both get in trouble.”
    – mxyzplk
    Feb 16 at 22:01
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    @keshlam I understand that 15 % was very optimistic, I would still somewhat have been satisfied even if I got about 8-10%. I conveyed the same but there was no consideration at all. My company is received forbes 'best under a billion' and they have been maintaining it since the past 3 years. Which is huge success for my company. So, I am really doubtful of that reason.
    – Jimmy
    Feb 16 at 22:12
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    “Plus, staying at my current company will help in my naturalization process as well.” - Will they though? They have a worker working below market, who has self identified, they don’t have a lot of options. Why would they do anything to change that especially if they are happy with your work. They also have said, or your manager claims, the company isn’t doing well financially. Companies reaching a list of under a billion, unless they are poorly managed, likely can afford to pay H1B1 visa holders an appropriate compensation.
    – Donald
    Feb 16 at 22:37
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    @mxyzplk, Do not make legal threats (even subtle ones) unless you know for a fact the law is on your side. Feb 16 at 23:46
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    Why apologise to your manager? The company lied to you and now your manager is upset because you're trying to get him to get them to stick to their word. Feb 17 at 11:09

2 Answers 2

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You have four potential moves:

  • Find another employer who's willing to sponsor your H1B visa. This is the ideal solution, but I think it's safer to assume that this is not going to happen right now.

  • Continue to work at rock-bottom wages until you get your green card. Since they've lied to you in the past, it seems reasonable to assume that they will continue to lie to you in the future and that they will delay/block your green card application for as long as possible.

  • Marry someone with a US citizenship.

  • Prepare to move back to your home country.

But whatever you do, do not apologize. You did nothing wrong. If there is tension in the air, let it remain there. If you apologize now, I can assure you that you will lose the respect of your manager even more and you won't even get 2% the next time around.

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I know the obvious step is to go and really sincerely apologize to my manager

This isn't obvious to me and it's unlikely to accomplish anything. I'd work hard, stay cheerful and job search. It doesn't matter how long it takes to get a new job as I'm employed although struggling. This is the story behind many immigrant endeavours, some of them very successful.

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