US immigration officials are taking H-1B enforcement plan to conduct 25,000 on-site inspections of companies hiring foreign workers over this fiscal year, according to a report in ComputerWorld.
According to the report, the move marks a nearly five-fold increase in inspections over last fiscal year, when the agency conducted 5,191 site visits. The new federal fiscal year began Oct. 1.
Tougher enforcement comes in response to a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) study (in October 2008), titled H1-B Benefit Fraud & Compliance Assessment, which found a 27% rate of fraud in the H1-B visa programme.
According to the study, there were a total of 51 cases from the sample of 246 H1-B petitions that were fraud or a technical violation of the regulations. The research primarily found two types of fraud, one, where there was 'willful misrepresentation, falsification, or omission of a material fact'; and two, where there was no willful fraud, but `there was evidence that the employer or alien beneficiary failed to comply with applicable laws and regulations.'
Some of the fraudulent activities included cases where either the business did not exist or the degrees and supporting documentation were found forged. In several cases, signatures too were found forged. USCIS study also found that 27 percent of the workers surveyed were being paid less than the prevailing wage for a particular job description and location.
According to US immigration authorities, over 11,000 H-1B visa slots are still vacant against the Congress-mandated cap of 65,000 for the fiscal 2010.
This is for the first time in several years that thousands of H-1B visas are still to be filled up. In previous years, the entire visa slots used to be grabbed on day one.