Risk & Compliance

Feds Eye H-1B Dependent Firms in Crackdown

President Trump moves to fulfill his campaign pledge to “end forever the use of the H-1B [visa] as a cheap labor program.”
Matthew HellerApril 3, 2017
Feds Eye H-1B Dependent Firms in Crackdown

The Trump administration made a move Monday to crack down on employers who hire foreigners over Americans, saying it would tighten scrutiny of the H-1B visa program.

On the same day the program started accepting H-1B applications for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said it would take a “more targeted approach” when making site visits to H-1B petitioners and the workplaces of H-1B employees.

“Targeted site visits will allow USCIS to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur, and determine whether H-1B dependent employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers,” the agency said in a news release.

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, said in a statement that it “will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers. U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims.”

During the election campaign, President Trump promised to “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program.” Over the weekend, USCIS issued a policy that could disqualify some computer programmer positions from H-1B eligibility.

“Taken together, the steps seem to point most directly and immediately at outsourcing companies like Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services,” Recode said. “But it’s still sure to send a major chill down Silicon Valley’s spine, after an election season in which Trump and his allies took aim at the industry’s hiring practices.”

Outsourcing firms obtain visas for foreign workers and then contract them out to tech companies. Critics say American jobs are sometimes replaced in the process.

USCIS has also established an email address that individuals can use to submit tips, alleged violations, and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse. “Protecting American workers by combating fraud in our employment-based immigration programs is a priority for USCIS,” it said.