America


US authorities tighten clampdown on skilled foreign worker visa fraud

by Ray Clancy on June 16, 2017

Authorities in the United States have announced multiple new measures to detect and deter visa fraud in connection with the programme used most frequently by companies to employ highly skilled overseas professionals.

The H-1B visa stream allows firms to recruit highly skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country.

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced an anti-fraud programme which it said will help employers, those wishing to work in the US and also protect American workers.

Officials will now take a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country to H-1B petitioners and the worksites of H-1B employees. USCIS will focus on cases where it cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data.

It will also look at H-1B-dependent employers who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to US and employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organisation’s location.

A spokesman said that targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B programme 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 US workers.

‘USCIS will continue random and unannounced visits nationwide. These site visits are not meant to target non-immigrant employees for any kind of criminal or administrative action but rather to identify employers who are abusing the system,’ the spokesman explained.

‘Employers who abuse the H-1B visa programme negatively affect US workers, decreasing wages and job opportunities as they import more foreign workers,’ he added.

USCIS also wants those who know of abuse of the visa programme to report it and said that tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse can be notified by email.

‘Information submitted to the email address will be used for investigations and referrals to law enforcement agencies for potential prosecution,’ the spokesman added.

In one recent case an agency was charged with faking letters from Silicon Valley bosses so it could employ cheap foreign workers, but the jobs specified in the visa applications did not exist and once the workers arrived in the US they were actually given different positions.

It is one area that President Donald Trump has indicated that he want to clamp down on. The move is backed by the Department of Justice. ‘The DoJ 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 disfavoured status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims,’ it said in a statement.

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