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H-1B Video: Should Employers Enter a Sponsorship Agreement with H-1B Petitioner?

In our H-1B Video series, FordMurray founding partner Russell Ford answers questions commonly asked by employers during the H-1B petition process. One recurring question is whether employers can enter a sponsorship agreement to protect the employer’s investment. Russell explores options for employers and the semantic reality of sponsorship agreements in this short video.

Questions? Employers can request a complimentary consultation here.

Hi, I'm Russell Ford, founding partner of FordMurray, National Immigration Law Firm based here in Portland, Maine. And we are answering some common questions that come up for employers in the immigration process. Today's question is focusing on, especially as we move into the H-1B cap season:

Can I have or should I have a sponsorship agreement with my H-1B employee or soon to be H-1B employee.

Sponsorship agreements are one of those things that we get asked a lot we see a lot with our clients. And they are, I think, an important tool in the immigration toolbox. When you are making that investment in an employee, when you are making that extra step going that extra mile for an employee and saying, “We value you, we want you to be a part of our company, so much so that we're going to sponsor you in the H-1B or other immigration process,” I think it does, from a company standpoint, behoove you to enter into a sponsorship agreement. It can be something as simple as we will sponsor you, and as an exchange, our anticipation is you will stay with us for a period of time.

Now, the second portion of those sponsorship agreements is where I think the analysis becomes a little more detailed. And that second portion that I'm referring to is generally the follow up question is, if I have a sponsorship agreement with my employee, can I require them to pay us back for those immigration fees that we've spent? And the technical or literal answer is no, the government has said there is no way you can have a payback agreement with that employee. However, the government has said you can have penalty provisions in your sponsorship agreement. What's the difference? A payback agreement is simply dollar for dollar. If I spend $5,000 sponsoring my employee for an H-1B, and I require her to pay me back $5,000 that is not okay. However, if in my sponsorship agreement, I say if you leave within a certain period of time, you will pay a penalty of $7,500. That is okay. Because it is a penalty. Not a payback. It sounds very semantical, and it is, but it is the distinction the government has made and so it is the distinction you as an employer have to make if you go that extra mile.

Again, I know these questions can be tricky. I know the semantics can be tough. So if you have questions, you want specific answers we do offer complimentary consultations. Give us a call, send us an email. We'll be happy to do what we can to help you out. Thanks.