If you are an H-1B worker with unpaid wages, there is a 1-year deadline for a particular type of legal complaint you could pursue. That is, there is 1-year deadline to file a WH-4 complaint at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
We have found that many H-1B workers (whether they have read our blog or not) are aware that a WH4 complaint can be pursued at DOL as a way to seek unpaid wages.
However, some H-1B workers who are past the 1-year deadline for a WH4 complaint may assume they have lost their chance to pursue unpaid wages.
Please know that often this is not the case. There often are options an H-1B worker can consider when the unpaid wages were earned more than one year ago. For example, several Federal and State laws (unlike the H-1B regulations and WH4 process) allow deadline periods of 2-6 years to pursue unpaid wages. So, if an H-1B worker’s employer had failed to pay wages that were due more than a year ago, that worker- while not having options at DOL per the WH4 complaint process- may well have options under other Federal or State laws. The attorney-authors of this blog can speak to this firsthand, as we have represented H-1B workers in several legal actions with legal claims seeking wages owed from several years prior.
The take-home points for you, as an underpaid H-1B worker, are these: (1) if you’re owed wages from more than one year ago, don’t assume you are beyond all legal deadlines to pursue those wages, unless a competent attorney tells you that following a consultation; and (2) if you are interested in a potential legal complaint, promptly have an attorney evaluate your situation, potential legal claims, and deadlines. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that all applicable legal deadlines will pass.