Lawsuit Uncovers USCIS’ Double Standards in H-1B Program
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) H-1B visa review and processing procedures are under scrutiny after the American Immigration Council filed a lawsuit seeking the public release of records concerning any USCIS fraud investigation s in the H-1B program. There is concern among small businesses that the USCIS “discourages their success by subjecting them to a near presumption of fraud.”
What is the H-1B Visa Program?
The H-1B Program is supposed to help support small and large businesses in hiring highly-skilled temporary foreign workers in specialty occupations. This program allows the high-skilled workers to work temporarily in the U.S in their specialized fields which include “marketing, business development, science and engineering.” The goal of the program is to help small businesses grow and the lawsuit alleges that theagency has not been doing their job by presuming fraud and impeding business growth.
What triggers an H-1B investigation?
According to the documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency seemed to be targeting small businesses that participated in the H-1B program and increasing scrutiny and fraud investigations simply because they are small and emerging. A fraud investigation may be launched when a business asks for an H-1B employee “ if the business has a combination of the following characteristics: 1) a gross annual income of less than $10 million, 2) fewer than 25 employees, or 3) has been in business for fewer than 10 years.” USCIS also used an outdated and statistically insignificant fraud report from 2008 that requires small businesses to provide detailed and difficult to obtain information regarding certain positions they wish to fill in their business. The small businesses are then subject to unannounced workplace visits and in many cases, unjustly denied visas.
With several businesses and organizations troubled with the USCIS’ actions after their vocal recognition of the important contributions that immigrants have to small business in the U.S.,USCIS has reportedly initiated various programs that help simplify the visa process for entrepreneurs and small businesses. They hope that working together will help uncover any hidden roadblocks created by the USCIS and allow small businesses to have a fair opportunity to hire workers that will increase their growth.
The double standard for small businesses is in no way helping propel business growth. The USCIS has been impeding business growth for the past several years and should focus on creating policies that are “clear, consistent and aligned with business realities.”
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