In choosing the best agency, you have to consider a few things.
1. Do they sponsor for H1b/Greencard/Both?
Ideal world: sponsored for H1b and Greencard concurrently
H1b allows you to work after 14 days (with premium processing and if the H1b quota is not yet reached). H1b is valid for 3 years. You have to work for the same employer (employer who sponsored you) for 3 years.
Green card allows you to work for 10 years and can be converted to U.S. citizenship if you desire. Green card also requires you to work for your sponsor only the first 6 months of sponsorship. After that (with employment authorization), you can work wherever you want. However, it generally takes 6 to 8 months to process, sometimes even longer. Having both makes is very convenient.
Real world: Most agencies sponsor for H1b. They will offer to sponsor you for green card after 6 months of employment. This is a fair deal
Bottom line: Try to get a green card sponsorship as soon as you can.
2. How long is the contract?
Ideal world: No contract
Real world: Most agencies offer a contract of 2-3 years. A two-year contract is considered fair.
Bottom line: Try to get the shortest contract possible
3. How much is the salary?
Ideal world: 50,000-55,000 dollars for a new grad depending on the location
Real world: The rate of pay is fixed in accordance with labor certification mandates specific for each state= approximately 20-24 per hour. This is somewhere around 40-45,000 a year on a 40 hour work week. 45,000-50,000 dollars would be fair depending on the location.
Bottom line: Aim as high as you can but not too much that you will scare the employer away. Don’t ask for more than 60,000 dollars for a fresh grad. Also remember that the cost of living is different for different locations even if it is in the same state.
4. How much is the breach of contract?
Ideal world: none, no payment from both parties
Real world: Agencies usually charge between 2,000 to 5,000 dollars for breach of contract. Some contracts will allow you to pay less after a certain period of time. Some contracts require you to pay more than 50,000 dollars. A fixed sum of about 2,000-5,000 dollars explicitly stated in your contract is considered fair.
Bottom line: Ask a lawyer to review your contract. Make sure you don’t sign off all your earning and your future earnings. Also, some contracts cannot be enforced. This might be because it is against the federal or state laws. Make sure that everything is clearly stated in your contract.
5. What are the benefits?
Ideal world: at least 2-3 weeks vacation time which may or may not include Holidays, Personal days and Sick days. Medical and Dental insurance after 4-6 months of hire; tuitions reimbursement/ exam fees reimbursement are all good benefits.
Real world: Most agencies provide at least 2 weeks of vacation time and 5 holidays. Medical insurance is usually covered after 4 to 6 months of employment.
Bottom line: The more benefits you can get the better. Remember however that since they are sponsoring you for H1b or green card, it is difficult to ask for too much.
6. How much are the fees?
Ideal world: Fixed price 1,000-5,000 dollars a year.
Real world: Most agencies earn by salary deduction. They will give you a pre-determined hourly rate and charge the facility 2-3x your hourly rate.
Bottom line: As long as your workload is not excessive, and that you get a fair wage, all is fair. They need to make money, too. It is their business. Remember working for agencies is only a temporary situation. Good luck!