Employers need to ready themselves for investigations from the Department of Labor (DOL) into the use of H-1B visas.

Without Congressional oversight or legislative changes, the Trump Administration has changed the policies for H-1Bs, resulting in the highest denial rate in history of this legal immigration program. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic national emergency, the Administration has issued a number of executive changes further restricting immigration, including a Presidential Proclamation restricting the entry of foreign nationals in H-1B status (among others) until at least the end of 2020.

Most recently, in conjunction with that Presidential Proclamation, USCIS and DOL have entered into an agreement to further share data so that DOL can conduct “more robust examinations” of employers’ H-1B usage. According to a DOL press release, “No previous Secretary of Labor has ever exercised this authority.”

In the past, USCIS has conducted unannounced worksite visits to ensure H-1B compliance. With DOL stepping into this new role, employers likely will see additional investigations and penalties for violations, including awards of back pay for wage errors. The added risks for businesses come as many of them continue to argue that making it harder to hire H-1B workers only harms the economy and does nothing to promote economic recovery.

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