USCIS Increases Scrutiny on Small Companies Filing H-1B Petitions

I previously reported on a September 2008 USCIS report, entitled H-1B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment, finding that small companies are more likely to violate H-1B visa rules. USCIS apparently now has begun making procedural changes consistent with the report.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association believes that USCIS has in some cases made overly broad requests for evidence from H-1B petitioners, seeking for example: “extremely detailed employer financial information; requests for proof of existence of an employer’s place of business (copies of leases, verification of proper use by zoning or planning authorities, letters from landlords, etc.); comprehensive lists of all employees, or all nonimmigrant employees, along with supporting payroll and tax information; requests for job descriptions in extreme detail; an explanation of the specialty nature of the occupation for which the nonimmigrant worker’s services are sought (especially the obvious); requests for prospective itineraries; copies of contracts where the employee will be working on a project for a third party….”

Of course USCIS should crack down on fraud wherever it is found. However, it seems to me that it is wrongheaded to crack down on small businesses. For H-1B visas the main problem is that 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.

With our economy in a slump, H-1B visas are a good thing.  They’re good for companies, who can recruit the best talent wherever it can be found. They’re good for U.S. workers too because for each H-1B worker hired the employer pays a $750 or $1500 “ACWIA” fee to the federal government to be used for training U.S. workers so our country can compete better in the global economy.

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