The recent conviction in November of two business owners abusing the H-1B visa program as a money-making scheme should serve as a warning to other employers who think they can do the same. The Department of Justice is cracking down on this sort of fraud, and can easily prove it exists because of warnings that appear on the Department of Labor's LCA Form and United States Citizenship and Immigration Service's Form I-129. Under this visa, you must hire foreign nationals for full-time work, for a real, existing position, and at the prevailing wage - to name a few requirements. The penalties for this can be severe, including five years in federal prison and $250,000 fine for commiting visa fraud.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is seeking input on some proposed updates to Form I-9. The form will be designed to be easily filled out online and with clear warnings about anti-discrimination laws in the application process. Employers will still need to print out the completed form to sign though. They must also remember to have any translator, preparer, or helper also sign this new form. As always, you can contact Hussain & Bendersky for aid in your foreign labor needs.
A bipartisan effort in the Senate to reform the H-1B progam is underway. The proposed bill seeks to increase oversight on the hiring practices of companies. They want to ensure that skilled foreign workers are getting paid what they deserve for their expertise, and that U.S. citizens are not mistreated by large companies and given opportunity for employment. Follow the link above for an article which goes into further depth about what this bill could be.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service has released a revised edition of their "Welcome Guide for New Immigrants," which has practical knowledge of everyday life in the U.S. Besides being updated for current policies and programs available to you, they have added two new chapters: one on personal finance and taxes, and another on the U.S. education and healthcare systems.
Follow the link for a downloadable copy they have published in fourteen different languages.
The Department of Homeland Security is proposing to amend the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program for F-1 nonimmigrant students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields. Among other the revisions, the amendment would allow STEM students to extend their visa under the OPT program for 24 months, rather than the previous 17 months.
It will also increase program oversight of participants, require employers to provide formal training and mentoring similar to U.S. workers, and also that an employer cannot fire a U.S. worker to open an available position for students who qualify for the program.
Contact one of our attorney's for help applying for the STEM OPT program.