Interactive H-1B Site Educates on Visa Compliance
A new U.S. Department of Labor Website supplies information on the laws and regulations relevant to H-1B visa holders and H-1B visa-holding companies. While much of the material has been available for several years, the information should now be more accessible.
The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a Website that
seeks to educate companies about the laws, regulations and policies that apply
to H-1B visa holders. The Elaws H-1B Advisor was designed to "help
employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under
numerous federal employment laws" and provides a glossary
of frequently used terms in the H-1B process. It was also put in place to "outline
notification requirements, monetary issues, worksite issues, recordkeeping,
worker protections and enforcement," according to the official
The H-1B visa program has been in place since the 1990s, so why are employers getting an interactive Website in 2010?
"As a strategy for compliance, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) develops materials to [help] workers know their rights and employers to understand the law in order to comply," a Department of Labor spokesperson said in an interview with eWEEK. "For an example of publications, see WHD's H-1B URL at http://www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/h1b.htm. Many of these materials have been available for several years. The [H-1B] Advisor is the most recent tool that the department has made available to assist both employees and employees in understanding the law."
When it comes to H-1B visas there are many departments of the federal government to deal with, including the State Department, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Foreign Labor Certification. This site is not intended to cover every law and regulation involved in the H-1B visa process.
"This Advisor is meant to address the H-1B worker protection provisions enforced by WHD and not deal with all agencies involved in H-1B visas," the spokesperson explained.
The site is not intended to help companies with the visa review process or with H-1B portability, but merely to be a resource providing step-by-step interactive functionality to help companies determine what they need to know about the law and compliance if they are considering requesting H-1B visas. Issues such as company size, the number of visas already in use by a company and whether that company received TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funding are determining factors in qualifying for H-1B visas.
"The Labor Department's goal is to provide employers and the public with user-friendly information regarding both rights and responsibilities under the H-1B program," Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement. "The new online Advisor harnesses technology to help take the mystery out of the new rules, and it offers an important resource to workers and employers alike."
The Elaw H-1B Advisor site took 18 months to complete.
"The 18 months included development, programming and extensive testing both inside the department [and] with various stakeholders," the spokesperson said. "The team of personnel working on the Advisor are not devoted full-time to development of the Advisor, but rather work on the Advisor in addition to their other work and priorities."