Visa Abuse to be Investigated by U.S. Justice and State Departments

October 12, 2017 Ian Helms

To better investigate potential employment-based visa abuse, the U.S. Justice and State departments agreed Wednesday to share pertinent information with each other.

According to Reuters, “Under the memorandum of understanding, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs will agree to share information about companies that could be discriminating against American workers or lying on employment-based visa applications.”

H visa abuse is facing the most scrutiny

The H-1B, a visa designated for high-skilled individuals in specialty occupations including especially hard-to-fill science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) roles, carries the biggest target of the investigations.

Additional H visas being evaluated include H-2A and H-2Bs. These visas are intended for the temporary hiring of seasonal agricultural and non-agricultural workers, respectively.

In July, Trump officials increased the number of H-2B visas by 15,000. Before sponsoring employees for H-2Bs, however, businesses are required to retain documents proving their company would suffer “irreparable harm” including an inability to meet contractual obligations or evidence of severe financial loss.

Potential visa abuse dates back

By law, companies must also attempt hiring Americans to fill open roles before sponsoring foreign nationals for visas to fill those openings. In sponsoring those visas, companies must file Labor Condition Applications with the Department of Labor; however, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired an episode dating back to 1993 alleging that “the Labor Department merely checked that the forms were completed,” rather than verifying the information provided was accurate.

According to the previously mentioned Reuters report, though, the Labor Department announced earlier this year that it also “planned to step up efforts to root out fraud and make more criminal referrals, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April calling for a review as part of his ‘America First’ pledge.”

It’s more important than ever that companies follow the appropriate steps to ensure immigration compliance and prevent visa abuse or fraud.

Our Compliance Hub houses many valuable resources to help ensure you have your bases covered in case of an audit.

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