On April 4, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") found Maryland's Prince George's County Public School System ("PGCPS") in willful violation of the wage requirements that govern the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program. According to the DOL, the PGCPS illegally reduced the wages of 1,044 foreign teachers hired under the H-1B program by requiring them to pay $4,224,146 in filing and other fees that the law requires employers to assume. Due to what the DOL considered as the willful nature of the violations, PGCPS was ordered to repay the filing fees, was fined $1,740,000 in civil penalties, and may be debarred from filing new H-1B petitions.
The DOL's enforcement action against the PGCPS represents a painful reminder of the rules relating to H-1B petitions. These rules require employers to pay certain fees, unless payment by the H-1B employee would not reduce his or her wages below the amount required by the H-1B program.