Saturday, October 18, 2008

Homeland Security finds widespread fraud in H-1B visa program

The Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has found evidence of forged documents and fake degrees, and even "shell" companies in the agency’s H-1B visa program. The report showed that serious violations of the H-1B program by employers are so common that one in five visas are affected by either fraud or "technical violations."

Thousands of employers may be violating the rules, many willfully.

Some employers didn't pay prevailing wages, some employees worked at jobs different from what the application claimed they would be doing. In one case, an H-1B holder was found working in a laundromat doing laundry and maintaining washing machines.

The investigators used a random sample of 246 cases drawn from a pool of nearly 100,000. Documents were reviewed and H-1B employers and workers were interviewed. The report's investigators discovered most of the problems during visits to work sites.

The tech industry has lobbied for an increase in the H-1B program, now capped at 85,000 annually, with 20,000 visas set aside for graduate degrees. Congress has not taken action on that legislation, and efforts to increase the H-1B cap have so far failed as well. The report of the USCIS investigation predicted that the agency will make procedural changes in the program.

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