Legal Rights Associated with a Work Visa
Many immigrants choose to come to the United States because they have already been hired by a U.S. company or because they are seeking work. Immigrants coming to the U.S. to work need to know their rights and responsibilities under the law. Our immigration attorneys are well qualified to help immigrant workers understand the rights guaranteed to them under U.S. law.
Regardless of whether an employee was born in the United States or has a work visa, that employee has certain rights in regards to employment. The company that hires you cannot violate federal or state labor laws. For example, you must be paid at least minimum wage. In some cases, your company must demonstrate that it pays you a salary that is equal to or greater than the salary typically paid to a similar U.S. worker. Your employer may have to pay you overtime pay if you work more than 40 hours in a given week. Sanitary needs such as a bathroom and clean water must be accessible at all times. When working with hazardous or unsanitary materials, the employer must provide protective clothing. If you are injured on the job, you have the right to first aid or to call 9-1-1 and may be compensated for the accident. Your employer cannot take your legal identification away or hold you against your will. Furthermore, your employer cannot discriminate against you due to your national origin, sex, age, ethnicity, or religion.
No employee is required to tolerate abuse. In some cases, quitting your job may put your visa or immigration status at risk. At the same time, if you pursue legal action or serve as a witness against your employer, you may need to remain in the country to state your case or testify. If you are facing abuse from your employer and are worried about the impact any further action will have on your immigration status, you should contact an immigration attorney immediately.
If your rights are being violated in the workplace, or even if you only suspect that your employer might be infringing on your rights, you have the right to seek out information and assistance. If you have questions about your rights in the workplace, there are a variety of online resources you may want to consult. The National Human Trafficking Resource center at http://www.polarisproject.org may be a helpful resource. Additionally, consular officials inform immigrations of the rights they have under their visas. The website for the Bureau of Consular Affairs (http://travel.state.gov) offers pamphlets about the rights associated with a work visa. These pamphlets are translated into ten different languages with more soon to come. Of course, for professional guidance on how these laws apply to your specific situation, it is important to contact a qualified immigration and employment attorney.
Even if you are only a visitor to the United States, it is important to understand that you have rights when it comes to your workplace. Everyone hopes they work for a fair and agreeable employer, but unfortunately that is not always the case. Protect yourself by knowing your rights and how to get help when you need it.
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