H-1B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment, a study published by U.S. Citizenship and Immigraton Services last month, finds that small companies are more likely to violate the rules related to H-1B temporary work visas. This finding is unsurprising because–as my clients constantly remind me–the rules are hyper technical. They consist of hundreds of pages of regulations from USCIS, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of State. In my opinion, the best way to reduce technical violations is to simplify the bewildering maze of rules.
Each year, 65,000 H-1B visas are made available to professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree to work to work for employers paying at least the “prevailing wage” for the job in the geographic area.Â For background about H-1B visas, see here.
USCIS’ study found fraud or technical violations in 20% of the 246 cases investigated. Technical violations included violations such as:
- The employer required the H-1B worker to pay the $750 or $1500 “ACWIA” filing fee, which by law cannot be passed on to the worker.
- The employer failed to pay at least the prevailing wage under U.S. Department of Labor rules.
- The H-1B worker was working in a geographic location not specified in the paperwork filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.
- The employer put the H-1B worker on unpaid leave (“benching”).