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I am working for an IT consultancy firm in the USA with an H1B visa. They employed me at their client's location. While joining, the recruitment manager told me that I have to share some of the H1B Transfer expenses and that those expenses will be reimbursed after 6 months. I agreed to that condition and documented my agreement and understanding of those terms in an email. Everything went fine.

After 6 months, I sent in a reimbursement claim to HR for my portion of the H1B transfer expenses. Surprisingly, HR said that their policy is to reimburse H1B expenses after 12 months, not 6 months, and sent me the HR policy document. I read that document and the policy is written as reimbursing after 12 months. Then I explained my confusion to HR about what the recruitment manager said to me in the initial discussion.

After 2 days I receive a call from the same recruitment manager and was asked "What is the confusion about reimbursement issue?". I reminded him of our previous discussion. He denied ever saying 6 months, so I forwarded him the email of my acceptance to the original terms. Then he says that "I haven't replied to that email by confirming your understanding is correct. I never said 6 months. I don't know how you misunderstood that.". Now I was even more surprised. I feel like this recruiter's behavior is shady and unprofessional. Then I said that "If it is the case leave it. I will claim it after 12 months." He said thanks and hung up.

This incident shattered my trust in this recruitment manager. How should I deal with him in the future?

I planned to have a long term career with this organization, but now I question the trustworthiness of the recruitment manager and this organization that retained him.

How can I figure out whether this organization is trustworthy before I go ahead with my plans?

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    Welcome to the corrupt snake-pit that is US immigration. Is your recruiter trustworthy? Is your employer trustworthy? Not with respect to immigration they're not. Nobody in the US is trustworthy in this respect, and immigrants have very limited recourse. I wish more people realized this. The only safe bet for reimbursable expenses to a non-US-national is a check that has cleared the bank. – O. Jones Jul 16 '14 at 22:18
  • Did the recruitment manager actually say "6 months" in the email, or did you email him asking if it was 6 months and assume silence meant "yes". That part isn't clear. Can you clarify? – jmort253 Jul 26 '14 at 20:51
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    @jmort253, While explaining all the terms, the recruitment manager said it is 6 months. After that I have write a mail listing all terms that he said verbally. 6 months is one of the term – Babu Jul 28 '14 at 2:01
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Here's what I hear in your account of your conversations.

The recruiter said you needed to pay half the cost of the visa transfer, and you'd be reimbursed after six months.

You said OK and did it.

After six months you found out that the employer's policy is twelve months.

You, correctly, grumbled to the employer HR department about what the recruiter said.

Reading between the lines, the employer HR person called the recruiter and said "why did you tell Baibu it was six months to reimbursement? You know it's twelve. Kindly solve this problem for us or we will stop using your services.

Reading between the lines the recruiter thought to himself, "oh no, I made a mistake. What can I do? I need this client."

Two days later he called you and dreamed up some rubbish to deny he ever said this to you, hoping that you will accept that.

So, what can you do in this situation?

You don't have much formal recourse. If you try to go to court it will take more than six months, and then you might lose. Visa-holders in the USA honestly don't have very strong positions in these matters. In the USA have an unfortunate history of lying to, cheating, and stealing from immigrants. It's unjust but true.

Presuming you like the job and hope to stay, you could just forget about it until twelve months elapse. If you do that, I hope you'll respectfully speak to the HR people to say "Please clear up this misunderstanding for future hires."

You might ask the company if they will bend their twelve-month policy under these circumstances. Perhaps they'll give you half of your share now and another half after twelve months. It doesn't hurt to ask respectfully. But they will probably refuse.

If they do refuse, your best bet is to say "OK, thank you for considering it. I had to ask. It's regrettable that we had this misunderstanding. I will be back in six months."

You might ask the recruiter to loan you some or all of that money for six months, until you get your reimbursement. But that probably won't work.

Reading between the lines, it sounds to me like your recruiter made a mistake and your employer is trying hold the recruiter responsible for that mistake. But none of that helps you, because you're the one left holding the bag.

Your question was: is this evidence of dishonesty on your employer's part?

My answer: no, I don't think so.

Is it evidence of dishonesty on the recruiter's part? He may be incompetent or overworked. But his denial of his mistake seems dishonest.

News flash! dishonest immigration recruiter!

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It may not be the agency, but this recruiter in particular that's either a) overworked (which many of them seem to be) or b) he made an error in his communications to you.

What I would recommend is that any time you get information like that from this or any other agency, ask for a copy of the company policy that relates to that, or ask for this in writing - so that you have a hard copy of what was said. If you get the official company policy, and it matches with what you were told, you can assume that you're good on that point unless/until you hear otherwise. This written information gives both you and the agency a concrete set of guidelines; and if ever you need to consult a labor ombudsman or lawyer to ask your rights or options in a particular situation, they'll have written/documented guidelines to go on, rather than a verbal report of a series of phone calls.

If you do keep working with this agency, you'll soon enough learn all of their policies, and learn who to contact internally to get further information. Never be afraid to ask for written policies and guidelines. That's just making sure that communications are clear all around.

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