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I've been working remotely as a freelance programmer for a ~15 people startup company in the US (I'm from Europe) for about 7-8 months now. They've started a visa process to get me on site and the visa process has been taking ~7 months so far. I assume the company invested a lot of money into the visa process but there are still issues with the visa and they've been hiring lawyers to fix those. Anyway, the visa is still not ready and the process will at least take another month.

On the other hand, I've realized that I'm a bad fit for the company. I've had numerous Skype conferences with the lower-chain team and there seems to have been a lot of tensions - mainly due to the fact that I'm more introverted and the majority of the team is extremely extroverted. Also their lead engineer left in the middle of the project and for no clear reason. And he was the only team member that I had no problem communicating.

How do I resign properly in this situation? I'm afraid that they'll ask me to return the money they've paid for the visa process and, seeing as it's been taking this long, it might have cost them ~10k already. I don't even have that amount of money.

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    imagine the visa came through tomorrow and you immediately moved to the USA. Would the workplace then be a better fit for you? Is being remote part of the problem? – Kate Gregory May 12 '16 at 15:52
  • As an aside, what's wrong with keeping you remote? There are people who work remote for years. I only ask because it seems odd that they would spend so much money to have you on-site when you're already doing the work remotely. Mostly just curious though. – Chris E May 12 '16 at 15:57
  • the problem is mainly the team. From the beginning I've started sensing that the majority of the team is extremely laid back/extroverted and the lead was the only more-reserved/analytical guy. Him leaving so abruptly (and I saw online that he's looking for a new workplace now) gave me the red flag that the work conditions are probably far from ideal for the more reserved people. Also the idea that I'll only be working with juniors makes the job much less appealing. – user44344 May 12 '16 at 16:00
  • @ChristopherEstep It might be that it's game development. The issues are usually more abstract/less defined in this field so communicating without standing near a whiteboard or around a monitor can be really hard to get across chats and Skype. Or it might be something else. I'm not sure really. – user44344 May 12 '16 at 16:11
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    I assume they're working on getting you a H1b visa - in which case they're specifically prohibited by US law from even trying to recover any visa costs from you. Don't let that worry you at all. – brhans May 12 '16 at 16:52
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You simply tell them what you've said here, that you realize that you wouldn't be a good fit. Thank them for the opportunity and part ways. They'll be ticked, but that's just life.

Just because they've spent money on a visa process doesn't mean you've sold yourself into slavery. Unless you signed something that said you will repay them, they really wouldn't have any recourse to recover the money from you, though I am not a lawyer.

Let them ask for the money. You're not in the same country, you're not even on the same continent.

  • It can cost thousands to sue someone across state lines in the US. I can't imagine it would be worth it for them financially to sue someone in another country for $10K. To you it's a lot. To them, probably not. – Amy Blankenship May 12 '16 at 16:28
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    That's besides the point as the employer is forced to pay all visa expenses by law and they cannot in any circumstance ask you to reimburse the amount – Thomas Bonini May 13 '16 at 16:18
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Well, this is a tough situation. Is there anything in your contract about you being liable for the costs of the visa process if you quit? If you're not certain you should contact a lawyer (American one, probably) and clarify this point ASAP.

Once you know what the situation is, you will have to contact the company in question and simply politely let them know that you don't feel like you're a good fit with the team, and you're quitting.

They'll be upset, but you can't really avoid that. You can offer your help for X number of weeks in order to transition the project to someone else if you want to be generous.

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It's better to leave now than wait for the visa to clear, then they buy your plane ticket, relocation cost, etc, etc. By then they might feel more obligated to recover some of their cost but even then unless you signed something there is nothing really that can be done.

Overall better to leave now and be sure to state the reasons above. If they're this interested in you maybe they can work something out for you.

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