Can I workunpaid on H4 when waiting for H1B approval?

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Can I workunpaid on H4 when waiting for H1B approval?

I am currently waiting for H1B approval. The docs were sent on premium processing and I will be receiving the receipt number this week. Can I start working for my future employer with the receipt number without being paid? I will be on payroll only after I receive the H1B approval. Can this be considered as volunteering and is this legal?

Asked on October 4, 2011 under Immigration Law, California

Answers:

SB, Member, California / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not permissible to be providing services without pay for the type of activity for which one normally expects to get paid.  This is not volunteering.  Volunteering is when you help at a local hospital, charity, library.  Not when you are doing work without pay for your employer.  If your H-1B visa petition was submitted through Premium Processing, you should get the decision within 15 days of the filing date and that is when you can start working with pay if your petition is approved.  Until that time, you are not authorized to be working.  From the liability standpoint for the employer, too, this is a risky proposition since until you are on payroll, they cannot get liability insurance that would cover you in the event you are injured at the worksite.


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