What to do about past wages regarding a F1 visa?

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2012

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What to do about past wages regarding a F1 visa?

I have a friend who was in the US on a student F1 visa. When she graduated 3 years ago, she continued to work for the college as optional practical training as allowed by law. After this, she applied for an H1-B visa and was rejected multiple times. During this time of applying for a visa, the school told her they can’t legally pay her wages but that she could continue to work as a “volunteer”. She was told to keep all of her time sheets. She was working 50-60 hours some weeks. She now has an EAD card and is able to work while waiting for approval as an asylum seeker. The college she was working for without wages is now telling her they cannot legally pay her for that time. Did they violate federal labor laws? In my understanding, employment is more than just receiving wages. It is working for the benefit of the employer, which she was clearly doing. Even though she was not receiving wages, she was most definitely employed, in my opinion. Am I correct in this assumption? What are her courses of action?

Asked on October 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The real issue is whether or not your friend violated federal labor laws by working in any manner for some person outside of the context of her student visa if her student visa did not allow her to be gainfully employed before she received her EAD card.

If your friend volunteered in exchange for possible units or credits for school then such would be allowed assuming no wages were paid her. If she wishes payment of money for the services she rendered, she should consult with a representative with her local department of labor about such after she consults with an immigration attorney to make sure she is not first in violation of her student visa.

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