We didn’t see this coming: Federal agents have arrested 11 people in a crackdown on H-1B visa fraud.
We’ve written about abuses in the H-1B program before, but have never, ever seen law enforcement actually pay attention to H-1B issues. Common (and illegal) abuses of the program include:
- Hiring immigrant workers for positions which Americans are qualified
- Advertising for positions and then throwing away every resume received, in an attempt to falsely document that no Americans can be found for that position
- Paying H-1B visa holders far below prevailing wages, depressing tech salaries
- Forcing immigrant workers to work in a different job than they were recruited for
- Treating H-1B workers are virtual slave laborers, with the knowledge than anyone fired faces deportation
With new, supposedly tougher H-1B rules set to go into effect for TARP-takers, we doubted the new restrictions would make any difference. But if USDOJ is actually looking at H-1B abuse for the first time, maybe Senator Grassley’s new bill will do something after all.
Federal authorities allege that in some cases, H-1B workers were paid the prevailing wages of low-cost regions and not necessarily the higher salaries paid in the locations where they worked. By doing this, the companies were “displacing qualified American workers and violating prevailing wage laws,” said federal authorities in a statement announcing the indictments.
Employers are required to pay H-1B workers prevailing wages, but those wage rates can vary significantly — by tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the region. How many U.S. workers may have been displaced was not detailed by federal authorities.
The arrests were carried out by federal, state and local agents working in Iowa, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and New Jersey. The government’s action “is the result of an extensive, ongoing investigation into suspected H-1B visa fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy,” said Matthew Whitaker, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, in a statement.
Chuck Grassley, the H-1B program’s fiercest critic in the US Senate, is also from Iowa. We don’t think the Iowa connection is a coincidence.