H-1B Quota, Fraud Detection, On-site interviews

October 2, 2009

The H-1B quota has now reached approximately 46,700 and although the USCIS has announced that they've received approximately 20,000 advanced degree applications, it still continues to accept advanced degree cases.

I have been fielding a lot of questions about whether a person is still "in H-1B status" even if they are no longer working for the employer who sponsored them. Simply put, the answer is "no." When H-1B workers are petitioned for by a specific employer, not only are they expected to work for that employer only (unless they have a concurrently approved H-1B for a separate employer), but they must always comply with the original terms of the H-1B petition. Any changes considered to be material to the employment must be reported to the US Department of Labor and possibly to the USCIS.

Further, H-1B employees are considered to be out of status if they lose their jobs or quit working for the H-1B sponsor. And as of late, the USCIS has been conducting random on-site visits to H-1B employers, interviewing the foreign worker(s), HR or the company owner, as well as verifying the terms and conditions of their work.

It shouldn't be a surprise to people that the Department of Homeland Security is utilizing their resources to crack down on employers and employees under the H-1B program.

Just 3 days ago, Senator Grassley of Iowa wrote a letter to USCIS Director, Alejandro Mayorkas, imploring him to "ensure accountability" in the H-1B program. This wasn't the first time Sen. Grassley has done so. Earlier this year, Sen. Grassley called out "Microsoft" for their usage of the H-1B program as well.

If your company is facing lay offs or you have lost your H-1B job, you need advice on how to maintain status (if possible) and/or guidance on what you may face in future applications for work authorization or work visas. ---ecf