Starting today, April 3, 2017, USCIS has started accepting the H-1B CAP petitions for the FY 2018 to recruit highly skilled foreign nationals under STEM and other categories. And today, it also issued cautionary note to deter and detect visa fraud and abuse.  USCIS will be making random and unannounced nationwide visits to H-1B petitioners and the worksite of H-1B employees. We have already noted the site visits by Homeland Security Investigations in Washington DC and Virginia (http://www.ahluwalialaw.com/hsi-visiting-companies/). When making such site visits, USCIS will focus on employers whose business could not be validated through commercially available data, H-1B dependent employers and employer’s petitioning for H-1B workers who work off site at another company or organization’s location. These visits aim to identify employers who are evading good faith effort to recruit US workers and may be abusing H-1B visa program. USCIS has provided email addresses on their site at https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/putting-american-workers-first-uscis-announces-further-measures-detect-h-1b-visa-fraud-and-abuse to empower American as well as H1B workers to point to the government any abuse related to the H1B program. We at ALO, encourage all users of the H1B program to understand their obligations as employers and to remain compliant.

Interestingly, in addition to the above, the Department of Justice has on April 3, 2017, almost concurrently with the above, issued a warning to the employers petitioning H-1B visas not to discriminate against US workers while employing foreign workers in specialty occupation such as STEM.   The division’s Immigrant and Employee Right’s Section (IER) which is responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), prohibits citizenship, immigration status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing or recruitment or referral for a fee, unfair documentary practices, retaliation and intimidation. H1B employer attest on the labor condition application that they have made good faith efforts to recruit US workers and are currently exempt from this if the employees being hired at least earn $60,000.00 or have a Master’s degree. The DOJ also made it clear that it will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against US workers and that they are whole heartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting such discriminatory claims.

We remind our readers to engage in bona-fide filings, remain compliant at all times and seek the help of a licensed attorney, if they have any questions about their situation. Please stay updated with the latest announcements, memorandum issued by the federal agencies, which may impact you.