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How many H-1B visa fraud complaints did the US receive last year?

Source: AFP/John Moore/ Getty Images North America

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more than 5,000 complaints of H-1B visa fraud and abuse last year, a US government official has said.

The complaints were gathered from a dedicated email helpline the Trump administration launched last year, NDTV reported.

Philip Smith, a USCIS spokesperson said to PTI: “As of May 21, 2018, the USCIS has received over 5,000 tips to the dedicated H-1B email address”.

Details such as the nature of complaints or the companies and individuals involved, however, were not furnished by USCIS.

American employers use the H-1B temporary visa program to hire foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree in “specialty occupations” where there aren’t enough high-skilled American workers to fill available jobs. It’s a hugely popular program. Recently, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service announced that it reached its annual cap of 85,000 visas in just five days.

The program is mired in controversy with some parties blaming it for displacing American workers with cheaper foreign labour, while others say it is vital for companies to have access to the world’s best talents.

A dedicated fraud team to safeguard US immigration benefits

The email helpline, established by the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS), is part of the policies introduced by USCIS to implement the Buy American and Hire American Executive Order signed last April. The order seeks to create higher wages and employment rates for American workers as well as protect their economic interests through the rigorous enforcement of immigration laws.

The FDNS was created in 2004 by USCIS to ensure immigration benefits are not issued to individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety, or who seek to defraud the US’s immigration system.

“Pursuant to the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, FDNS has helped the agency investigate the H-1B program to protect American workers,” Smith said.

Both American and H-1B visa holders, who suspect they or others may be victims of H-1B fraud or abuse, can email ReportH1BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov to submit tips, alleged violations, and other relevant information about potential H‑1B fraud or abuse.

According to USCIS’s website, they have to provide the following information:

  • Name of the H-1B petitioning employer/company;
  • Address of the employer/company or location of the H-1B worker(s), including the city and state;
  • Description of the alleged violation, abuse, or suspected fraud;
  • Their email address, name and phone number;
  • And any other information that may be useful to investigate the alleged fraud or abuse.

Smith added that USCIS and FDNS created and implemented the Targeted Site Visit and Verification Program (TSVVP) last April to enhance the integrity of the immigration benefit process, he said.

In response to a question, Smith said: “This targeted approach focuses on H-1B dependent employers (those who have a high ratio of H-1B workers as compared to US workers, as defined by statute).

“Cases that we cannot validate the employer’s basic business information through commercially available data; and employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.”

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