How Industry Coerces H1-B Workers to Work Overtime

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Executive Summary

  • H1-B lobbyists leave out the fact that H1-B workers can be easily coerced into workers many overtime hours.
  • This is a significant appeal of the H1-B visa program, accessing workers who cannot say “no.”


Industry loves the ability to coerce H1-Bs into overtime work, dropping the hourly rate of H1-Bs far lower than their already lower salaries. Forced overtime is mainly well known among the Indian companies like Infosys, Cognizant and Wipro.

The following quotation is evidence of this.

Long Work Hours for H-1Bs—First, one of the implications of the de facto indentured servitude of the H-1Bs is that they cannot refuse their managers’ demands to work long hours. A variation of Type I savings involves working the H-1Bs long hours. Whereas American workers must be cajoled into occasional overtime work, H-1Bs can be forced. This amounts to indirect Type I salary savings, since most programmers are exempt from overtime laws. And in the case of contractors, the savings is direct:

Raj Subbaram, a manager at HCL Perot and himself an immigrant from India with permanent resident status, often hires H-1B tech workers to fill the staffing needs of clients such as Cisco, eBay, and Sun. Among other reasons, he says foreign workers’ willingness to work long hours adds to their appeal. ‘The H-1B guy is ready to put in a lot of hours, up to 14 hours a day, and they don’t charge for the extra hours,’ Subbaram says. – University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 

India never developed rules that place an enforceable work week. Therefore Indian H1-B workers are used to being poorly treated in India. And when they work as H1-B in the US, they usually continue to be exploited.


This forced overtime is a common and relatively undiscussed feature of H1-B workers. However, it is another appeal of the program. Companies that hire H1-B workers don’t want to be restricted in being able to force employees to work overtime.

As H1-B workers work significantly more hours than US citizens, it means that the per hour rate for H1-Bs is far lower than even the standard compensation comparisons show.