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USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse

US Customs and Border Enforcement

On Monday, April 3, USCIS released a memo announcing multiple measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse. Protecting American workers by combating fraud in the employment-based immigration programs is a top priority of USCIS. The memo states, “The H-1B Visa Program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country. Yet, too many American workers who are qualified, willing and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.”

USCIS is now taking a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and worksites of H-1B employees. USCIS will focus on cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through available data, H-1B dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers, as defined by statute), and employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.

Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make good faith efforts to recruit U.S. workers. USCIS will continue random and unannounced visits nationwide. These site visits are not meant to target nonimmigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action, but rather to identify employers who are abusing the system.

USCIS further states that employers who abuse the H-1B visa program negatively affect U.S. workers, decreasing wages and job opportunities as they import more foreign workers. To further deter and detect abuse, USCIS has established an email address which will allow individuals (including both American workers and H-1B workers who suspect they or others may be the victim of H-1B fraud or abuse) to submit tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse. Information submitted to this email address will be used for investigations and referrals to law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution.

USCIS will also keep their existing H-1B fraud measures intact. Since 2009, USCIS has conducted random administrative site visits to ensure that employers and foreign workers are complying with requirements of the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. USCIS refers many cases of suspected fraud or abuse to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for further investigation. Currently, individuals can report allegations of employer fraud or abuse by submitting Form WH-4 to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division or by completing ICE’s HIS Tip Form.

If you have questions on the H-1B visa program, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!