Immigration Enforcement

Senators Propose Rules To Remove Fraud From H-1B Visas & Protect U.S. Workers

Senator Chuck Grassley, along with Sen. Dick Durbin, introduced legislation to reform the H-1B and L visa programs. The U.S. issues 65,000 H-1B visas annually to high-skilled foreign workers in fields where there is a worker shortage. L-1 visas are issued to employees of foreign companies and allows them to work in the United States for three years. Both programs have come under fire for claims of fraud.

The legislation makes reforms to increase enforcement, modify wage requirements, and ensure protection for visa holders and American workers. The bill does not eliminate the program or change the numerical cap of visas available to petitioning employers.

“The H-1B program was never meant to replace qualified American workers. It was meant to complement them because of a shortage of workers in specialized fields. In tough economic times like we’re seeing, it’s even more important that we do everything possible to see that Americans are given every consideration when applying for jobs. If there aren’t qualified Americans, companies can use the legal immigration programs we have available, but we must return the H-1B and L visa programs back to their original intent,” Sen. Grassley said in a released statement.

The Durbin-Grassley bill would, among other things:

  • Require all employers who want to hire an H-1B guest-worker to first make a good-faith attempt to recruit a qualified American worker. Employers would be prohibited from using H-1B visa holders to displace qualified American workers.
  • Prohibit the blatantly discriminatory practice of “H-1B only” ads and prohibit employers from hiring additional H-1B and L-1 guest-workers if more than 50 percent of their employees are H-1B and L-1 visa holders.
  • Permit the Department of Labor to initiate investigations without a complaint and without the Labor Secretary’s personal authorization;
  • Authorize the Department of Labor to review H-1B applications for fraud;
  • Allow the Department of Labor to conduct random audits of any company that uses the H-1B visa program;
  • Require the Department of Labor to conduct annual audits of companies who employ large numbers of H-1B workers.
  • Provide safeguards for visa holders so they know their rights under the law. This would include wage rates and access to benefits.
  • Establish a process to investigate, audit and penalize L-1 visa abuses.

For more information, see Sen. Grassley’s press release .

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April 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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