New tool to crackdown on US employers exploiting H-1B program.
Two US agencies have agreed to share data to speed up investigation of potential fraud and abuse in the H-1B visa system following President Donald Trump’s suspension of such visas until the yearend.
Under a recent Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) will provide access and share information about immigrant and nonimmigrant petition records.
According to a recent USCIS document, there are currently over 580,000 non-immigrant H-1B workers in the US. More than half such visas go to Indian professionals.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, President Trump has taken steps to ensure that American workers are well positioned to return to work as jobs come back online,” stated Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, according to a DOL news release.
RELATED: USCIS rule changes to prevent H-1B work visa fraud (July 31, 2020)
The agreement “protects American workers by giving the Department of Labor an important new ability to launch investigations of potential fraud and abuse in the H-1B visa system,” he added.
“Most critically, the MOA establishes processes by which USCIS will refer suspected employer violations within the H-1B program to the DOL that USCIS identifies in the course of adjudicating petitions,” the release said.
They would also share data contained within the Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s labor certification and labor condition application databases, the release said.
This is a source of information never previously accessed by the Department for enforcement purposes – and conducting administrative and targeted site visits, it said.
The enhanced collaboration and sources of information will be used by Department of Labor in support of Secretary-certified investigations, the release said.
“The Secretary’s power to personally initiate investigations of potential violations is a unique authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows for more robust examinations of employers’ use of H-1B workers than are ordinarily undertaken,” it said. “No previous Secretary of Labor has ever exercised this authority.”
As part of his broader effort to protect the interests of American workers during the coronavirus public health emergency, Trump directed the Secretary of Labor to make use of this important enforcement power in his June Presidential Proclamation suspending H-1B visas until the yearend, the release said.
The MOA “will be central to the Department’s work carrying out the President’s policy of ensuring that the use of foreign labor does not harm American workers,” it added.
The MOA also sets procedures for the exchange of data as well as the responsibilities regarding the use, retention, maintenance, dissemination, destruction, and safeguarding of data, it said.
Information sharing is intended to support the administration of US immigration law and combat fraud and abuse in the immigration system. The MOA will be reviewed annually by both Departments, it said.
“This combined effort further enhances the federal government’s ability to crackdown on US employers exploiting the H-1B temporary worker program and discriminating against an American labor force significantly impacted by covid-19,” tweeted USCIS.
Indian American family faces deportation for $20 million H-1B visa fraud scheme (December 29, 2017)
H-1B Visa fraud: Indian American Sunitha Guntipally gets four years (December 6, 2017)
USCIS prepares to double on-site visits to detect H-1B visa and L-1 visa frauds (November 30, 2017)
Indian American entrepreneur Rohit Saksena sentenced for H-1B visa fraud (August 10, 2017)
Indian American businesswoman found guilty of H-1B visa fraud (July 22, 2017)
Indian American convicted for H-1B visa fraud (February 15, 2017)