What Will U.S. Agency Do to Fix H-1B Problems?


Hot on the heels of a federal government report documenting fraud and other problems in the H-1B visa program, Sen Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican and longtime critic of the program, wants some answers from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about what it intends to do about its findings.


In a letter to the agency, Grassley takes the USCIS to task for taking too long to produce the report, noting that he first asked for an investigation into the H-1B program in August 2005, then issues a long list of questions for the agency. Among them: Were any of the applications found to be fraudulent revoked? Were the companies that submitted fraudulent applications referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution or otherwise penalized? Is the agency considering conducting more site visits to improve fraud detection?


According to Computerworld, the USCIS is considering a number of reforms, including using "independent open-source data" to obtain information about visa seekers or companies filing petitions on their behalf. The example offered is having USCIS officials compare information provided by petitioning companies against commercially available records to ensure they are legitimate businesses. Wow. If even those kinds of rudimentary checks are not currently being conducted, it's a wonder the fraud rate isn't far higher -- and maybe it will ultimately prove to be.


According to the report, 21 percent of H-1B applications evaluated in a random sample were found to either be fraudulent or contain what the USCIS calls "technical violations."