POSTED BY Christine Mehfoud The Enforcement Focus on Visa Fraud
the Department of State (DOS), and the Department of Labor (DOL) also have ramped up efforts to investigate visa fraud.
zenship and Immigration Services each year for H-1B visas far exceeds the limited number of those available, the H-1B visa has become quite valuable both to the foreign worker and many employers. With increased value comes increased fraud, followed closely by in- creased enforcement. An H-1B visa permits a qualified foreign worker to
Improper Use of the H-1B Visa Because the number of petitions filed with U.S. Citi-
work temporarily in the United States in a specialty oc- cupation. However, the H-1B visa also carries with it stringent requirements, including certain educational and professional requirements for the worker and cer- tain obligations regarding the type of work and wage of- fered by the employer. Employers can run afoul of these stringent requirements by taking actions that many employers may not realize are wrong, such as sending
he federal government's increased scrutiny of em- ployers for immigration-related violations does not stop at the employment verification process. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS),
H-1B employees to unauthorized worksites or assigning responsibilities to the H-1B worker that fall outside the visa's approved scope. DHS and DOL have increased unannounced site in-
spections of employers of H-1B workers, seeking to veri- fy the working conditions and specifications stated in the visa petitions. Inspectors usually speak to company offi- cials and the H-1B visa worker, as well as review relevant documents. Employers must ensure that their statements in a visa petition accurately reflect the details of the posi- tion and the qualifications of the foreign worker who fills that position. Penalties for improper visa use can include criminal
penalties, payment of back wages, loss of the ability to sponsor future workers, and significant civil monetary penalties. For example, the DOL Wage and Hour Divi- sion may assess civil money penalties with maximums ranging from $1,000 to $35,000 per violation, depending on the type and severity of the violation.
Improper Circumvention of the H-1B Visa Recent enforcement efforts also have focused on at-
tempts to circumvent the stringent H-1B visa require- ments and cap by improperly substituting other less ex- pensive and more readily available visa options. In par- ticular, some employers have attempted to use the B-1
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