A California company was charged last month in a multimillion-dollar visa fraud and money-laundering scheme that filled U.S. tech jobs with foreign workers. The case was the latest in an ongoing string of immigration scams involving H-1B “skilled” visas. To cite just a few:
- An Indian company, with offices in Houston, admitted to running a major H-1B fraud operation from 2013-2020, using forged contracts and absconding with funds.
- A New Jersey staffing and consulting firm was required to pay $345,365 in restitution after it was charged with improperly recruiting foreign workers and withholding wages.
- In Texas, the U.S. Department of Labor determined that a tech company withheld payments from an H-1B visa worker in an illegal workplace practice called “benching.”
- Back in California, a Chinese national ran an immigration fraud scheme that raked off millions of dollars while helping thousands of foreign workers to remain in the U.S. illegally.
“Fraud in the H-1B visa program is nothing new. If the feds did a thorough investigation of all employers that utilize the program, they would find a large number abusing it,” U.S. Techworkers executive director Kevin Lynn stated in an email to FAIR this month.
Increasingly prevalent workplace scams involving foreign nationals prompted bipartisan legislation to scrap the dubious H-1B visa lottery and tighten rules to protect Americans.
“Congress created the H-1B and L-1 visa programs to complement America’s high-skilled workforce, not replace it. Unfortunately, some companies are trying to exploit the programs by cutting American workers for cheaper labor,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
Grassley, along with co-sponsor Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said their S.3720 will explicitly prohibit replacement of American workers by H-1B visa holders. Allocations would, for the first time, be ranked to ensure that top science-technology-engineering-mathematics (STEM) degree holders educated in the U.S. have priority for available work visas.
Eliminating the H-1B lottery is crucial. This current randomized system, which dispenses visas irrespective of actual need or merit, has opened the door to fraudsters in America’s tech workplaces. It’s time, past time, to shut that door.