Government Agencies Issue Warnings about H-1B Program

04/05/2017

This week, as the Fiscal Year 2018 H-1B cap filing period began, the federal government made several announcements warning H-1B employers to not discriminate against U.S. workers.

On Monday, USCIS announced that it will immediately begin conducting targeted H-1B site visits, with emphasis on companies who are H-1B-dependent or place their workers at third-party worksites. Prior to this announcement, USCIS only conducted random site visits, which it will continue to do in conjunction with the targeted site visits. In making the announcement, USCIS noted, "Protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programs is a priority for USCIS."

The Department of Justice then issued a press release in which it "cautioned employers petitioning for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers." The Department of Justice further noted, "The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally prohibits employers from discriminating against U.S. workers because of their citizenship or national origin in hiring, firing and recruiting. Employers violate the INA if they have a discriminatory hiring preference that favors H-1B visa holders over U.S. workers."

Finally, yesterday, the Department of Labor ("DOL") issued a press release emphasizing its plan "to protect U.S. workers from H-1B program discrimination by providing greater transparency and oversight." DOL noted it "fully supports the U.S. Department of Justice in cautioning employers who petition for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers, as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse." In terms of its specific plans, DOL said it will consider changing the existing Labor Condition Application and "rigorously use all of its existing authority to initiate investigations of H-1B program violators."

Please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney if you have any questions about how these developments could affect your organization.

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