An Indian staffing firm and its U.S. subsidiary forced an Indian information-technology worker in San Jose to pay his own salary, and threatened him with revocation of his H-1B visa and deportation if he did not comply, a new lawsuit alleged.

Indian firm Kellton Tech Solutions and its U.S. staffing subsidiary Prosoft Technology Group broke federal human-trafficking law in their treatment of Fazlur Mahammad, the suit alleged. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

On top of having to compensate himself for his work, Mahammad — who worked in San Jose and Illinois for the companies for three years from 2015 to June 2018 until he was fired  — also had to pay $2,000 in fees for his H-1B visa and other federal paperwork that by law is to be paid by employers, the lawsuit claimed.

The two companies “regularly used the threats of deportation or visa revocation” against Mahammad if he didn’t pay his own salary, the lawsuit alleged.

Mahammad was threatened into making a number of payments, usually for $3,300 but once for $10,000, from October 2015 until his termination, the suit claimed. The suit did not specify the number of payments made, the total amount he allegedly paid for his own compensation, or the companies where he was placed for work.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois last week, alleged that the companies also refused to pay Mahammad’s work-related travel expenses, only reimbursing him after he hired a lawyer to push the matter.

Mahammad was fired in May and told to return to India immediately, the suit said. He claimed in the suit that he suffered emotional distress and mental anguish as a result of the companies’ actions, along with loss of wages and personal money. He is seeking unspecified damages plus $2,000 for the federal visa fees he claims he paid.

Jay Palmer, a former whistleblower on alleged visa fraud by Indian outsourcer Infosys, advised Mahammad and his legal team on the lawsuit.

“California, especially the Bay Area, is and has been the breeding ground for visa fraud and the exploitation of workers both foreign and domestic,” Palmer claimed.