How legal is the this REIMBURSEMENT AGREEMENT?

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I have the following included in my h1b documents package

"I acknowledge that <Company>, in consideration of my promise to remain in the employment of <Company> for a minimum period of eighteen (18) months, has incurred business expenses on my behalf in the reasonably approximate amount of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00).  I recognize that these business expenses are difficult to ascertain and relate to legal fees, administrative expenses, relocation costs, training costs as well as other reasonable business expenses proximately incurred by <Company> on my behalf with respect to my employment through the H1B visa process.  
If I shall voluntarily terminate my employment, or fail to undertake best efforts to discharge my duties as an employee resulting in my termination for cause, within eighteen (18) months from the date the first business expense was incurred by <Company>, I shall be responsible to reimburse and compensate <Company> for its bona fide liquidated damages in the amount of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00)."


To me, that doesn't smell nice. I would love to know the community's opinion. Thank you in advance.

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Liquidated damages are not a fixed amount. That gets lower the longer you work there, because the company recoups its investment in you through your work.

Claiming something is liquidated damages doesn't necessarily make it so.

Further, the costs related to the H1 petition,including legal fees, have to be paid by the employer can can not be included in liquidated damages. And finally, the company can deduct these expenses from their taxes.

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An employer cannot make you pay for H1B application documents fees (ie LCA, I-129, H1B anti-fraud fees etc) but they can make you pay for attorney fees, their hiring costs etc

The text of the agreement that you mentioned above seems to favor your employer legally since they have not mentioned anything about you paying for the H1B application fees.

My advice to you is to dump this employer as the $20K costs are pretty excessive. The job market is pretty hot right now...find another employer or tell this one flatly that the terms are not acceptable to you and see if they are willing to negotiate.

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