Immigration Enforcement

Report finds fraud in 20% of H-1B applications

Federal investigators discovered fraud in more than 20 percent of applications they examined in which employers were requesting H-1B visas…

Seattle Times staff reporter

Federal investigators discovered fraud in more than 20 percent of applications they examined in which employers were requesting H-1B visas to hire foreign professionals in the U.S., a finding they called a “significant vulnerability.”

In a report released late last year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service cited one especially egregious case in which an employer petitioned for a business-development analyst position but later told investigators the worker would be doing laundry and maintaining washing machines.

The report’s findings appear to vindicate some critics of the H-1B program, who have said the hiring of foreign professionals hurts U.S. workers.

The immigration service promised procedural changes in the wake of the findings, but warned that the findings were not an indictment of the program overall.

“The H-1B program is immensely valuable, and most employers and workers who use it, use it properly,” spokeswoman Sharon Rummery said.

Investigators picked a random sample of 246 H-1B applications out of the 96,827 filed by employers between Oct. 1, 2005, and March 31, 2006. Holders of such visas must have at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent, and employers are required to pay them the prevailing wage.

But investigators found instances in which workers forged their employment and education credentials to obtain visas. No actual U.S. employer even existed in some cases.

More…

Advertisements

February 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

H1-B Visa Fraud Sparks Arrests Nationwide

An ongoing federal probe into H-1B visa fraud leads to 11 arrests and the indictment of IT services firm Vision Systems Group

The controversy over the H-1B visa program for highly skilled workers is heating up once again. Federal agents detained 11 people in six states as part of a wide investigation into suspected visa fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Iowa announced on Feb. 12, a day after the arrests. Those arrested are accused of fraudulently representing themselves or other workers in immigration documents.

Besides the arrests, Vision Systems Group, an IT services firm based in South Plainfield, N.J., with a branch office in Coon Rapids, Iowa, was indicted on 10 federal counts, including conspiracy and mail fraud charges. The firm allegedly used fraudulent documents to bring H-1B visa workers into the U.S. The government is seeking the forfeiture of $7.4 million from Vision Systems that was gained through the alleged offenses. Five other technology companies, including Worldwide Software Services and Sana Systems in Clinton, Iowa, remain under investigation for document fraud, prosecutors said. “We are only at the tip of iceberg as to where this [investigation] leads,” said Matthew G. Whitaker, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. “We have a ways to go and more [fraud] to uncover.”

Representatives of Vision Systems, Worldwide Software, and Sana Systems could not be reached for comment after business hours on Feb. 12. Whitaker declined to identify the other three companies being investigated.

H-1B Program Under Scrutiny

The coordinated, nationwide enforcement effort began 18 months ago and continues, officials said. It is the first to specifically address fraud in the H-1B visa system, which critics say brings lower-cost tech workers into the U.S., displacing American workers.

As unemployment rises in the U.S., the H-1B program is drawing scrutiny for its potential effects on U.S. jobs. In October the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) released a report showing rampant fraud in the H-1B visa program. At the same time, critics say that outsourcing firms, including Infosys Technologies (INFY) and Wipro (WIT), use H-1B visas to replace U.S. employees with cheaper workers from abroad, often cycling overseas staff through U.S. training programs before sending them back home to perform such jobs.

More…

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

High Rate of H-1B Visa Fraud

A report released Oct. 8 by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) reveals that 13% of petitions filed for H-1B visas on behalf of employers are fraudulent. Another 7% contain some sort of technical violations.

The study, released to members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, marks the first time the agency, part of the Homeland Security Dept., has documented systematic problems with the controversial program. Technology companies, in particular, have come to rely on the H-1B visa program to bring in skilled foreign workers to fill jobs that employers claim can’t be filled with U.S. candidates. Tech companies like Oracle (ORCL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Google (GOOG) have pushed to get more visas, claiming that a shortage of skilled workers is hampering U.S. competitiveness. Microsoft Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates has twice testified in front of Congress on the issue.

Critics say H-1Bs help U.S. companies replace American workers with less costly foreign workers. “The report makes it clear that the H-1B program is rife with abuse and misuse,” says Ron Hira, assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “It shows the desperate need for an auditing system.” However, both Presidential candidates, Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), have said they support expanding the program.

More…

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment