Government Report Documents H-1B Fraud


H-1B visa opponents say the system is so broken that it should be fixed before legislators seriously entertain the idea of easing visa limits, a move being promoted by tech companies like Microsoft and Intel and supported by both U.S. presidential candidates. Among their charges: Companies overstate a shortage of qualified personnel so they can hire lower-cost H-1B holders. Indian outsourcing companies receive an inordinately large share of the visas. Some companies outright scam the system.


A new report by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) provides plenty of fodder for the latter claim. According to the report, 13 percent of H-1B applications filed on behalf of employers are fraudulent and another 8 percent contain some kind of technical violations. As I wrote last summer, there is a surprising dearth of solid data on the H-1B program. The USCIS report marks the first time a government agency has documented such systematic problems, notes a BusinessWeek story.


Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology who is frequently interviewed about H-1Bs, says the report shows a "desperate need for an auditing system."


According to BusinessWeek, most of the problems were uncovered during site visits to 246 companies that filed H-1B petitions. Among the issues: visa holders who had never worked at the location given in the application, workers paid below the prevailing wage, and workers performing job duties that were significantly different than those listed on the application. Accounting, human resources, business analyst, sales and advertising were among the occupations most likely to involve fraud, though problems were also documented with managerial and computer-related occupations.


The report hints that USCIS will implement procedural changes to address the problems.