USCIS Takes a Drastic Approach to the H-1B Program

H-1B programAs you might know, the H-1B visa program is created by the U.S. government to assist U.S. companies with recruiting highly-skilled foreign workers when they cannot find qualified U.S employees in the country.  Two-thirds of visas under the H-1B program are used by tech companies and 70% of the applicants are Indian nationals.

Today, April 3, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) declared a new approach to prevent and discover fraud and abuse of the H-1B visa program.  According to USCIS, there are many qualified U.S workers who can perform the same jobs, but they are wrongfully ignored and passed over in favor of foreign nationals who are willing to work for lower wages.

According to today’s announcement, USCIS will take additional steps to make sure that U.S. workers are prioritized by performing targeted visits to sponsoring companies’ worksites.  USCIS will focus on the following:

  • Cases where USCIS cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data;
  • Companies that have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to U.S. workers; and
  • Employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.

USCIS plans to achieve its goal by identifying those companies that are more likely to abuse the program and evade their obligations to prioritize U.S. workers.  USCIS will conduct random and unannounced visits to the worksites of these companies.

USCIS has established an email address at which purported victims of H-1B program abuse can submit tips and information about suspected abuse and fraud.  The information will be then forwarded to law enforcement agencies.

It should be noted that random worksite visits have been conducted by USCIS since 2009, but today’s announcement reflects a shift toward a more targeted approach (focusing on worksites that meet the criteria above) and an expansion of USCIS attention to the issue.

For more information about combating fraud and abuse in the H-1B visa program, you can visit the following website.