Grassley Seeks H-1B Job Assurances

With the federal government set to begin its new fiscal year Oct. 1, Sen. Chuck Grassley wants the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to require that new H-1B visa applicants actually have a job waiting for them in the U.S.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Sept. 29 to hold employers accountable by requesting evidence from petitioners that H-1B visa holders actually have a job waiting for them in the United States. Grassley's comments came after several small Iowa communities were used as nothing more than mail drops in an elaborate H-1B visa fraud scheme earlier this year that allowed foreign workers to illegally work on the East and West coasts while being paid the lower Iowa prevailing rates.
"We don't need a long, arduous legislative process to get at some of the problems. The agency can take immediate steps to eliminate fraud in the H-1B program, including cracking down on body shops that do not comply with the intent of the law," Grassley said in a statement. "Employers need to be held accountable so that foreign workers are not flooding the market, depressing wages, and taking jobs from qualified Americans."
Grassley, a fierce critic of the specialty H-1B visas, has been pounding for H-1B reform since a 2007 audit found as many as 20 percent of the H-1B applications may be fraudulent or technically flawed. The audit of 246 H-1B applications discovered 13 percent of the applicants used forged documentation, false businesses or addresses, or false job offers or misrepresented their immigration status. Another 7 percent had technical violations such as requiring the applicant to pay the application fee or list a salary substantively above what the applicant would actually be paid.
In the Sept. 29 letter to USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, Grassley wrote, "Simply put, adjudicators should be asking companies up front for evidence that H-1B visa holders actually have a job awaiting them in the U.S., i.e. that workers are not coming in only to be 'benched' by employers."
In February, two New Jersey IT services firms allegedly used shell businesses in two small Iowa towns-Coon Rapids and Clive-as part of an elaborate H-1B visa fraud scheme that began to unravel with the arrests of 11 individuals in seven states. According to the Department of Justice, the scheme involved hiring college-educated foreign workers to allegedly fill high-tech jobs in Iowa when, in fact, the workers were sent to the East and West coasts while being paid the lower prevailing Iowa wage rate.
In other cases, the DOJ claims, foreign workers were recruited and H-1B visas were obtained for non-existent jobs or the workers were placed in jobs and locations not previously certified by the Department of Labor, replacing qualified American workers and violating prevailing wage laws.
In multiple indictments revealed by the DOJ, the investigation seems to center on Vision Systems Group of South Plainfield, N.J., and Praveen Andapally, identified as president of Venturisoft, also based in South Plainfield. The other indictments include Vishnu Reddy, who was identified as president of Pacific West of Santa Clara, Calif.
"We have seen substantial fraud and program violations by employers who bring in H-1B visa holders and then outsource them to other work sites. Such was the case with the indictment of Vision Systems Group, Inc. earlier this year in my home state," Grassley wrote to Mayorkas. "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement alleges that the company did not have jobs available for the H-1B workers they petitioned for, and placed them in non-pay status upon arrival in the United States."