U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) refines its approach to ferreting out employer fraud and abuse around the H-1B visa program with multiple targeted measures. The agency’s aim with the new measures announced in April is to ensure good-faith efforts on the part of employers that participate in the visa program.
In its more targeted approach, USCIS site visits to employer locations with H-1B visa workers focus on:
- Cases where commercially-available data fails to validate an employer’s basic business information
- Cases where employers have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers
- Cases where H-1B workers work off site or at another company or organization location
The increased scrutiny on employers is also intended to protect current H-1B visa holders. As employer fraud and abuse of the program includes taking advantage of foreign-born workers.
Fraud and abuse indicators include:
- Lower wages paid to H-1B workers than the wage certified on the Labor Condition Application (LCA)
- Lower wages paid to H-1B workers compared to other works performing the same or similar duties
- Higher level or otherwise different duties are assigned to an H-1B worker than the duties specified in the H-1B petition
- Less experienced H-1B workers hold a similar position compared to a more experienced U.S. worker
- H-1B worker location is different than that indicated in the LCA
While USCIS increases its enforcement actions around the H-1B system, it’s also asking for public assistance in the effort. In particular, the agency is reaching out to current H-1B workers who suspect employer abuse. To this end, “immigration law may provide certain protections to these workers,” according to a USCIS statement.
Citing potential “extraordinary circumstances,” USCIS might exercise its discretion in cases where an H-1B worker:
- Applies to extend H-1B status or change from nonimmigrant status
- Face retaliatory action from an employer
- Lost or failed to maintain H-1B status
H-1B workers and American workers can report claims of possible fraud or abuse by sending tips to ReportH1BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov.
With the new measures, the agency intends to bring more transparency to the visa program as a whole. At the conclusion of the H-1B visa cap filing season for the fiscal year, 2018 concludes, for instance, USCIS plan to publish a report detailing data around the petitions. Additionally, the agency also plans the creation of a web-based, searchable platform designed to give the public greater understanding of how H-1B visas are used.