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The definition of "work" on H1B

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accd.211

Member
I am on H1B visa. A close friend is starting a business, he wanted me to help but I said I couldn't. But he still talks about his business from time to time and asks my opinion such as, "how does the marketing material look", "do you think the price is too high?" etc. It felt weird for me to refuse to answer his questions. We are close friends!
But I am worried if such interaction would violate H1B rules? Is this considered "work"? Or I am over thinking....
 


Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I am on H1B visa. A close friend is starting a business, he wanted me to help but I said I couldn't. But he still talks about his business from time to time and asks my opinion such as, "how does the marketing material look", "do you think the price is too high?" etc. It felt weird for me to refuse to answer his questions. We are close friends!
But I am worried if such interaction would violate H1B rules? Is this considered "work"? Or I am over thinking....
You're overthinking. Giving your friend an opinion on his materials without any compensation (present or future) is not "work".
 

accd.211

Member
Thanks! What is then considered "work" by USCIS? I searched the internet, and some people say that no compensation doesn't necessarily mean it is not work. Then where is the line? Or I should say, in additional to no compensation, what I cannot do regarding to my friend's business?

Appreciate the help!
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
Thanks! What is then considered "work" by USCIS? I searched the internet, and some people say that no compensation doesn't necessarily mean it is not work. Then where is the line? Or I should say, in additional to no compensation, what I cannot do regarding to my friend's business?

Appreciate the help!
Its no compensation, current or future, or any equity compensation that helps to determine that its not work. All of us on these forums are volunteers and we receive no compensation and never will for the volunteering that we do here. We are free to offer advice to strangers. You are certainly free to offer advice to friends and family.
 

t74

Member
I believe the example questions are more than casual conversation. If asked about marketing materials, OP would have had to review them. That is work. A pricing analysis is also work. In addition, your friend is taking advantage of your experience gained from work for free. He needs to hire a legitimate employee to perform these functions if he is unable to do them himself.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
I believe the example questions are more than casual conversation. If asked about marketing materials, OP would have had to review them. That is work. A pricing analysis is also work. In addition, your friend is taking advantage of your experience gained from work for free. He needs to hire a legitimate employee to perform these functions if he is unable to do them himself.
Its not work if its not compensated in any way. Either current or in the future.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I believe the example questions are more than casual conversation. If asked about marketing materials, OP would have had to review them. That is work. A pricing analysis is also work. In addition, your friend is taking advantage of your experience gained from work for free. He needs to hire a legitimate employee to perform these functions if he is unable to do them himself.
My friend: I just did this brochure and price list for Widgets. You've bought Widgets before, what do you think?
Me: Wow, this is a nice brochure and that pricing seems in line with what I'd pay.


Are you really saying that's "work"?
 

PayrollHRGuy

Senior Member
If you aren't making money nor have a future
I believe the example questions are more than casual conversation. If asked about marketing materials, OP would have had to review them. That is work. A pricing analysis is also work. In addition, your friend is taking advantage of your experience gained from work for free. He needs to hire a legitimate employee to perform these functions if he is unable to do them himself.
Oh BS. So if let's say this forum added a sub for Laws of Europe. And a volunteer who is in the US on a H1B visa and was from the EU and was a lawyer there started answering questions. Do you think that would be considered work? Because I can guarantee that many of the Senior members here do 100x the research to answer a question than it sounds like the OP was asked to do.
 

t74

Member
It is work if another individual would be paid for doing the same tasks. It is volunteer if every person doing the same tasks at the employer is also a receiving no payment. You volunteer at soup kitchens; you work for friends without receiving payment especially when making use of the skills you use in your paid position.

It is very much dependent on what is being asked. I believe that OP is trying to find approval for activities contrary to the H-1B rules.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
It is work if another individual would be paid for doing the same tasks. It is volunteer if every person doing the same tasks at the employer is also a receiving no payment. You volunteer at soup kitchens; you work for friends without receiving payment especially when making use of the skills you use in your paid position.

It is very much dependent on what is being asked. I believe that OP is trying to find approval for activities contrary to the H-1B rules.
As someone else already said, that is total BS. There is no way that helping out a friend, when you are not and never will be compensated is "work" for the purpose of the H1-B Visa.
 

PayrollHRGuy

Senior Member
Then about half of the Salvation Army VOLUNTEER bell ringers around her are working because if the SA can't get volunteers they pay people minimum wage.

But that is really beside the point. What the OP said he did doesn't rise to the level of work. No different than if I asked you, "Hey t74, do you like the mug in my picture to the left of this post? Is $12.95 too much to charge for it?"
 

accd.211

Member
Thanks for all the advices, it’s good to hear both sides of the argument. I think this topic itself is an gray area and depends on situations.

My friend understands and he asks me to tell him what I can do or cannot do so it doesn’t interfere/violate my H1B. So here is what I plan to draw the line:
- no compensation now or future
- I will only provide feedback and discuss ideas, and will not do any work such as drafting documents/brochures, operating the business etc
- I will not join the business in the future (Is this necessary?)

I am open for suggestions, thanks!
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
Thanks for all the advices, it’s good to hear both sides of the argument. I think this topic itself is an gray area and depends on situations.

My friend understands and he asks me to tell him what I can do or cannot do so it doesn’t interfere/violate my H1B. So here is what I plan to draw the line:
- no compensation now or future
- I will only provide feedback and discuss ideas, and will not do any work such as drafting documents/brochures, operating the business etc
- I will not join the business in the future (Is this necessary?)

I am open for suggestions, thanks!
Yes, it is necessary.
 

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