A Failed H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse Hunt: USCIS Referrals Low

Following the executive order “Buy American, Hire American: Put Americans First”, USCIS began a new initiative to crack down on H-1B fraud and abuse. According to Bloomberg Law, the hunt for individuals and companies that abuse the H-1B program has proven largely unsuccessful.

Increased Site Visits

Prior to President Trump’s executive order, H-1B petitioners were randomly selected for compliance reviews. Now, USCIS shifts towards “targeted site visits” that prioritize scrutiny towards firms and employees that may have disadvantaged U.S. workers. Specifically, companies with a high concentration of H-1B workers, consulting companies, and unverifiable companies were targeted more heavily in the new Trump-era of worksite visits. The introduction of new fraud detection initiatives was intended to prevent companies from denying U.S. workers access to specialized job markets. Additionally, USCIS hoped that the increased site visits conducted in fiscal year 2018 would expose an inordinate amount of fraud and abuse in the H-1B visa program. However, the increased effort showed little evidence of widespread fraud.

Low Percentage of Fraud and Abuse

According to USCIS numbers exclusively released to Bloomberg Law, USCIS conducted over 23,000 site visits in fiscal year 2018 (FY18). Of those visits, less than 5% yielded in a referral to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for benefit fraud. These numbers include all site visits conducted by USCIS; H-1B worksites saw only 6,300 visits in FY18. H-1B workplaces saw 556 “targeted” site visits, spurred by the executive order, for those firms and employees under increased scrutiny. In a statement provided to Bloomberg Law, USCIS spokesman Michael Bars stressed the importance of the anti-fraud initiative in order to protect “the integrity of our nation’s lawful immigration system, harming American workers, and risking public safety and national security.” However, it remains unclear if the targeted site visit initiative has been successful in unearthing vast quantities of fraudulent H-1B visa beneficiaries.