“USCIS Plans to Double H-1B Visa Antifraud Site Visits in Fiscal 2018”

11/13/2017
SHRM


"The federal agency charged with combatting fraud and abuse involving immigration visas for H-1B and L-1 workers plans to step up targeted inspections and site visits overall.

“The move is a response to suggestions from the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, which concluded that the antifraud and abuse program managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ‘provides minimal assurance that H-1B visa participants are compliant and not engaged in fraudulent activity.’

“The Inspector General's audit of the USCIS Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP) and the agency's separate channels of targeted inspections found several operational shortcomings.

“…The audit also found that USCIS could do more to:

  • “Ensure that employers identified as previous violators are denied new petitions.
  • “Share information with other regulatory agencies.
  • “Compile and assess performance metrics from site visits.

“…According to the report, USCIS is able to approve more than 330,000 new, extended or amended H-1B visa petitions annually but only conducted an average of 7,200 ASVVP site visits during fiscal years (FYs) 2014-2016, or 3 percent of all approved H-1B petitions during that time. The number of visits fell short of the agency's goal to complete 9,000 inspections in FY 2014 and 10,000 in FY 2016. These visits are random, and employer and worker participation is voluntary.

“…While USCIS uses targeted site visits to respond to indications of fraud, it does not have a reliable system to track these actions, the audit concluded. 

“…Tracy Renaud, former acting deputy director for USCIS, said that the agency plans to conduct more site visits in FY 2018, depending on the availability of additional resources, personnel and infrastructure. The FY 2018 goal for site visits would be doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 with the addition of a revamped targeted site visit program that started as a pilot in April 2017. USCIS considers the new program to be a hybrid of random compliance visits and for-cause visits based on detected fraud.

“…USCIS was also asked to enhance its random sampling procedures to focus more on recurring violators.

“…The Inspector General recommended that USCIS improve its information-sharing relationships with other agencies such as the departments of State and Labor, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to better identify high-risk employers for targeted site visits.

“Renaud said that USCIS concurs with the report's findings and has started to address the recommendations. She also pointed out that the Inspector General wrote positively about the agency's creation in April of an e-mail address dedicated to receiving information about suspected H-1B visa fraud or abuse.”

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