USCIS announces measures to detect H-1B abuses; Justice Department warns against its misuse.
The new H-1B season began Monday, with the Trump administration warning companies that it “will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers.”
“U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler, said on Monday, as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began receiving petitions for the 2018 fiscal year.
The Justice Department official’s prepared statement was not the only warning that the administration issued regarding H-1B abuses on Monday. The same day, USCIS announced multiple measures to “further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse.”
USCIS to start accepting H-1B visa petitions from Monday (April 3, 2017)
In a press release, the agency said beginning Monday, it “will take a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees.”
In the release, tinged with political overtones, the agency said “too many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged” and protecting “American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programs is a priority for USCIS.”
The “visa program should help U.S. companies recruit highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country,” the release said.
It added that the USCIS will focus on three different groups: one, where it “cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data”; two, “H-1B dependent employers”; and three, “employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.”
Random site visits are not new. The agency has been conducting visits since 2009 to ensure that both employers and H-1B workers are complying with the visa regulations.
“It was not that there was no site visits before,” Aparna Dave, founder of the Law Office of Aparna Dave, a Gaithersburg, MD, -based immigration law firm told The American Bazaar. “Now they specifically determined the focus of these visit.”
The release said such site visits will focus on places “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 a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers.”
The agency added that such random 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.”
The USCIS also announce a new mechanism that will allow individuals — both American workers and H-1B workers — to report H-1B fraud or abuse and “submit tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse.”
The email ID is mailto:REPORTH1BABUSE@USCIS.DHS.GOV.
Additionally, individuals can report allegations of employer fraud or abuse to the Department of Labor to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.