U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in April multiple measures to deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse. The H-1B visa program is meant to help U.S. companies recruit highly skilled foreign nationals in specialty occupations when there is a shortage of such qualified professional workers in the country. Yet, according to USCIS, the perception among some Americans is that too many American workers who are as qualified, willing and deserving to work in professional fields have been ignored by U.S. employers or unfairly disadvantaged by the availability of foreign nationals on H-1B visas. Thus, USCIS intends to make it a priority to protect American workers by combating fraud in employment-based immigration programs, including the H-1B visa program.
As of April 3rd, USCIS has assumed a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to the worksites of H-1B employers and their sponsored H-1B professional workers. USCIS will now focus on making site visits in the following cases:
- where it cannot validate the H-1B employer’s basic business information through commercially available data;
- where U.S. employers are H-1B-dependent (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers, as defined by statute); and
- where the H-1B professional workers sponsored by the U.S. employers work off-site at another company or organization’s location.
USCIS believes that targeted site visits to the worksites of such H-1B employers will allow it to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur. In addition to verifying the accuracy of the information provided by the H-1B employer about the employer and the terms and conditions of the H-1B employment, these visits should allow them to determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers. USCIS will now also conduct random and unannounced site visits nationwide, not intended to target nonimmigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action, but rather to identify employers who are abusing the system.
To further deter and detect abuse, USCIS has established an email address [ReportH1BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov] to allow individuals (including both American workers and H-1B workers who suspect they or others are the victim of H-1B fraud or abuse) to submit tips, alleged violations or other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse. Information submitted to the email address will be used for investigations and referrals to law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution.