The H-1B Fraud Rate: Over 20%, Says USCIS

We’ve written before about widespread abuse in the H-1B visa program, but now we have some hard figures to work with: There’s fraud in over 20% of H-1B applications.

And no, these figures don’t come from some advocacy group with an agenda. The “over 20%” figure is the findings of a newly surfaced report undertaken by the federal government’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

For those just joining us, the H-1B program is a provision in U.S. immigration law which brings 65,000 educated workers (mostly tech guys from India) to the U.S. each year, with regulatory restrictions in place to ensure:

  1. H-1Bs can only be hired for jobs where ‘no qualified American can be found’ and
  2. H-1Bs must be paid market rates so as not to depress tech salaries.

Critics argue neither provision ever gets enforced, and in practice H-1Bs compete directly against American citizens at cut-rate prices, making life miserable for IT workers.

The issue leaped back into the spotlight when Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) called Microsoft (MSFT) on the carpet for advocating for an expansion of the H-1B program mere weeks before beginning thousands of company-wide layoffs.

With new restrictions on TARP-takers hiring H-1B workers set to go into effect, we doubted new H-1B laws would mean anything since the old H-1B laws were never enforced. But with 11 arrested last week in the first criminal H-1B fraud investigation we can ever recall, and USCIS reports acknowledging widespread abuse in its own program, it increasingly feels like there may be a change in the wind in the US government’s approach towards H-1B oversight.

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