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My wife and I are conservators of art - paintings on canvas, wood and wall. We received our MA's at The Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (a 6 year study program). We have over 10 years experience in the field. I work in a Warsaw museum and also teach at the Academy, my wife is a freelance conservator. At the beginning of this year we received a job offer as non-immigrant workers (H1-B Visa) from an Art Conservation Center located in Massachusetts. Initially we were thrilled with the idea and during our Skype interview agreed without bargaining to a 35.000$ gross salary each, for a full time position as paintings conservators. We didn't sign anything but the whole process of getting the sponsored Visa started (our salaries were accepted by the Office of Labor and we are now waiting for the decision of the USCIS). During this time we did some research and found out that those salaries are not as good as we initially thought...each of us would get a net pay of around 2200$/month which in Williamstown is not a huge sum considering a transatlantic move for the both of us and turning our life up side down...(the median for this profession is around 45.000-65.000 $) This is where our question comes in - can we try to change our salaries before we come to the US or is there no way we can do so? Maybe it is our fault that we didn't know one should bargain when talking about his future salary with the boss and it took some time to research the living costs and all other factors...

We would surely use some advice.

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  • I think you have decide salary very earlier..But still it is not late , you can tell them that you were not aware of rent cost , living cost and other so you told that salary but now you need change in that if possible. Jun 17, 2015 at 8:01
  • Did you agree in writing to the lower salary? If so, you probably don't have much hope of changing it. I strongly recommend you talk to a lawyer conversant in this type of Visa and agreements.
    – Jane S
    Jun 17, 2015 at 8:22
  • Not in writing just at a Skype conversation - we did not receive an offer-letter of any sort.
    – user37222
    Jun 17, 2015 at 8:48
  • So you haven't signed anything at this point with regard to your positions? No employment agreements? What about the Office of Labor?
    – Jane S
    Jun 17, 2015 at 9:22
  • Well, the documents went to the Office of Labor without our signatures - no one told us to sign anything (they have a lawyer firm working between us and our future employer and they supply all needed paperwork to the USCIS and Labor (scans of diplomas/passport CV, etc but no employment agreements went through our hands just an info about benefits in form of a Word-file but with no info as to the proposed salary.
    – user37222
    Jun 17, 2015 at 10:00

2 Answers 2

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The thing to keep in mind is that any negotiation can result in no agreement. With that in mind, no it's not too late to attempt to negotiate a better salary. If you want to negotiate for a better salary, now is the perfect time to do so -- they have invested in you, and you have not invested in them; you haven't quit or moved yet, while they have apparently started the process of getting you a visa. While they probably can redirect that effort towards someone else, that won't be without at least some cost.

It sounds like you are being offered anout 75% of the MINIMUM local rate -- I would consider that a red flag, and would want at least the local minimum.

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  • You mentioned "some cost"...does that mean we would have to compensate them if we do not go ahead with our re-location...we did not sign anything and didn't get any official work agreement to sign - we just send our passport scans, CV's and additional info to the lawyers that are handling our visa case and received the USCIS receipt...we are now waiting for our visa status
    – user37222
    Jun 29, 2015 at 8:01
  • No, you would not have to compensate them. None of what they are doing is for your benefit -- it is all for the employers benefit. But restarting the hiring process is unlikely to be as simple as calling up their second choice and saying your hired. And the employer will probably want to aboid that extra time and effort.
    – jmoreno
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:52
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If the salary you mentioned is on the I-129 petition, and since it's already filed with DOL (Department of Labor), then that is what you would get. I think may be once you are in the country, you should re-negotiate after a few months or else look for a new job (as you haven't signed any agreement with the company)

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  • If I'm not wrong, the minimum salary to get a H-1b is $42k. Did you pay for the petition filing?
    – sriinnu
    Jun 17, 2015 at 23:47
  • Thank you for your help...does this mean that there is a slim chance we can actually change the gross pay amount BEFORE moving to the US if the original pay has been approved by the Office Of Labor? If we were to quit and not go ahead with the move would we have to pay our not-to-be future employer some compensation...even if we didn't sign anything?!? We did not pay for the petition filing...
    – user37222
    Jun 29, 2015 at 7:55

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