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Hi! International student with F-1 visa on OPT worked on a company for stock. DOS now requires signature of letter.

Sunnyvale, CA |

I got engaged with a start-up that offered stock as compensation while I had no work authorization. The company required me to send a form election 83b to the IRS that states I paid $0.33 cents per unit. So I always thought I could just pay for such units anytime considering this a purchase option with no obligation to own/pay for those units. The contracts say I will be given units in compensation but they also say that there should be no conflict of law. Many times I told the company about restrictions for F-1 students & that I intended to pay for units. Recently, the company went meet with the DOS at my school who is asking me to sign an agreement saying that I volunteered but also that the company will void any stocks. I want to keep my F-1 status & to pay for the units. Any advice?

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

I'm not sure I'm following your question, but it sounds like you may have violated the terms of your student status. You say you received stocks as compensation. Compensation for what? What, exactly, did you do for the start-up?

Asker

Posted

Thanks. During my engagement, the DOS told me I am free to buy a house or to buy stocks. In this start-up, I worked for 5 months (too was abused and humiliated) building an electronics circuit and software for their product and intellectual property. If the agreements say that state and federal laws construe the agreement, wouldn't that mean also that they can not compensate me? They showed to the school officer a stock certificate that supposedly exists. However, I have never received any compensation. I have never seen any certificate and I even returned a K-1 schedule that they sent me, that by the way was incorrect because it stated I was a resident as if they did not know I am not. Can it be still called compensation? I have nothing nor accepted anything.

Asker

Posted

There is a clause in the agreements that say that they will compensate me with stocks for the work I did. However, I have not received nor accepted anything. On the other hand, there is another clauses that says that I am making a cash contribution (for the value those units supposedly have) that coincides with what was reported to the IRS with the 83b. Should I be worried. Can it be seen as compensation? I would very like not to sign anything because this company is very abusive and I want not to have any relationship with them. I rather reporting to the IRS that I was fooled by this company and end of the story. Thanks for your advice.

Mark Robert Barr

Mark Robert Barr

Posted

If you performed the types of duties that are typcially compensated, you may have worked without authorization, even if you received no compensation. In order for the duties to be volunteer work, they need to be the type of things that people commonly do for free--like working at a blood drive, or teaching a Sunday School class, or cooking meals at a homeless shelter. Building an electronics circuit and software do not sound like common volunteer activities. That being said, I still don't understand what is happening in your case. Is your student status in jeopardy? Are you at risk of being placed in removal proceedings? Sounds like you're going to want to meet with a good immigration attorney in your area to sort through all of this.

Asker

Posted

I am not sure if my student status is in risk because I do not know what can the school officer do about something that happened last year. I already have a I-767 and I am not sure what is her jurisdiction on that other than signing my I-20 if I want to go home for Christmas. She could try reporting I worked without authorization to the USCIS although that is apparently unclear. It was definitely not the type of work of a volunteer but I was willing to help and willing to pay for the stocks. I even thought on sending a check for the value of them if that is going to solve the problem. I understand there is the chance to address derogatory information before removal procedures in which case I would show that I tried not to do wrong but buy their units in cash. Above all I do not want to risk my student status although the involved paperwork would be hard if the school official is sold to this company as it apparently is. Is this the time already to look for an attorney or should I wait to see what happen?

Mark Robert Barr

Mark Robert Barr

Posted

No--be proactive--get an attorney NOW so hopefully this can be nipped in the bud.

Posted

Retain an experienced immigration lawyer, whether myself or one of my colleagues, to review all the facts, advise you, and handle the case.

J Charles Ferrari Eng & Nishimura 213.622.2255 The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they may or may not apply to the question.

Posted

Even being given the opportunity to purchase stock in-exchange-for-volunteer-'work' is not permitted.

Do what the foreign student adviser states and consider yourself lucky that your visa/OPT isn't being terminated in SEVIS.

PROFESSOR OF IMMIGRATION LAW for over 10 years -- This blog posting is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Posted

If you worked without authorization and received compensation even if as stocks you are in violation of status. Volunteering and voinding the stocks is a good idea. Best Wishes!
Lalita Haran
13295 Illinois st ste 128
Carmel IN 46032
Ph: (317) 660-6174
www.haranlaw.com

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