DOL to 'Vigorously' Enforce Visa Program Laws

Author: Rena Pirsos, XpertHR Legal Editor

June 15, 2017

Employers that hire or plan to hire workers who are nonimmigrant visa holders should be extra diligent in complying with immigration laws and keeping the proper records. DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta has announced in a News Release that, after a "thorough review" of the DOL's foreign worker visa programs, the agency will "more aggressively" confront businesses that commit visa program fraud or abuse. This policy is in accordance with President Trump's Buy American and Hire American Executive Order.

According to Acosta,

"Entities who engage in visa program fraud and abuse are breaking our laws and are harming American workers, negatively affecting Americans' ability to provide for themselves and their families. We will enforce vigorously those laws, including heightened use of criminal referrals. The U.S. Department of Labor will focus on preventing visa program abuse and take every available legal action against those who abuse these programs."

In addition to its already ongoing efforts to investigate and detect visa program fraud and abuse with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, Acosta said the agency will:

  • Use all available means to conduct civil labor enforcement investigations through the Wage and Hour Division;
  • Propose changes to the Labor Condition Application employers use when seeking to hire H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 visa holders;
  • Better coordinate administration and enforcement activities of the visa programs and refer criminal fraud to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG); and
  • Establish a working group to supervise the effort and coordinate enforcement to maximize the efficiency of the DOL's visa program activities.

According to the News Release, the DOL has already started prioritizing and publicizing investigations and prosecutions of visa program violators, and the OIG has increased its visa-related fraud scheme investigations. These efforts have led to convictions of attorneys, employers, recruiters, corrupt government employees and labor brokers, including within the H-1B program.