Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recently announced actions to increase protections of American workers while more aggressively confronting entities committing visa program fraud and abuse.
“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,” said Secretary Acosta. “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.”
The secretary determined that it is now the policy of the department to enforce vigorously all laws within its jurisdiction governing the administration and enforcement of non-immigrant visa programs, including:
- Directing the department’s wage and hour division to use all its tools in conducting civil investigations to enforce labor protections provided by the visa programs.
- Directing the department’s employment and training administration to develop proposed changes to the Labor Condition Application, and for the division to review their investigatory forms, to better identify systematic violations and potential fraud, and provide greater transparency for agency personnel, U.S. workers and the general public.
- Directing the division, ETA and the office of the solicitor to coordinate the administration and enforcement activities of the visa programs and make referrals of criminal fraud to the office of the inspector general.
- Establishing a working group made up of senior leadership from ETA, the division and solicitor’s office to supervise this effort and coordinate enforcement to avoid duplication of efforts and maximize the efficiency of the department’s activities regarding the visa programs. The working group shall invite OIG to send representatives to participate in its efforts.
The department will also continue to work with the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to further investigate and detect visa program fraud and abuse.
The complete news release discusses a first-of-its-kind legal action for a preliminary injunction against an employer for providing illegal and life-threatening housing to agricultural workers employed pursuant to the H-2A visa program and provides links to some of OIG’s recent successes in combating fraud in the H-1B program.
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