Three federal agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor, have announced plans to provide greater oversight of the H-1B category in an effort to prevent abuses and protect US workers.
The H-1B program allows US employers to temporarily hire highly skilled foreign workers in specialty occupations. In recent years, there has been growing concern that some US employers have abused the H-1B system by choosing to hire foreign workers instead of US workers and, in some cases, replacing US workers with H-1B employees. The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits US employers from discriminating against US workers in their hiring, firing, and recruitment efforts.
In response to this concern and in an effort to protect US workers, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor, have all announced plans to increase oversight and scrutiny of the H-1B program.
In an effort to protect US workers from H-1B abuses, federal agencies will undertake the following actions:
– Increase scrutiny on all H-1B petitions
– Increase site-visits at the workplaces of H-1B holders specifically focusing on the following:
* Worksites of H-1B dependent employers – companies that have 15% or more of their US workforce on H1-B visas
* Worksites of H-1B employees who work at a different location from their employer, and
* Worksites for companies that do not readily have information about their business accessible through commercially available data
– ‘Rigorously’ use existing authority to initiate investigations of H-1B violations
– Investigate and prosecute H-1B abuses by ensuring greater coordination between federal agencies
– Consider changes to the Labor Condition Application in future H-1B cycles
– Seek improvements to the H-1B program by looking at legislative changes and existing statutory authorities
In addition, USCIS has established an email address to allow people to submit tips regarding alleged H-1B violations or cases of potential H-1B fraud or abuse.
Employers with H-1B employees should reach out to their legal counsel to initiate a review of internal procedures and processes and ensure compliance with all H-1B rules and regulations. Companies are also encouraged to have a site visit preparation plan in place in the event of a site visit.
PwC Law continues to monitor this matter and will be sure to update you as changes occur.
For further details regarding the recent H-1B announcements, or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our team.