The federal government suspects some employers are trying to gain an unfair advantage in the H-1B process.
An unusually high number of H-1B applicants with multiple eligible registrations has prompted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to investigate a few companies that may have attempted to game the system, the agency said April 28.
In other words, multiple employers may be attesting that they have a job for the same employee.
Of the approximately 758,000 eligible registrations submitted for fiscal year 2024, more than 408,000 included workers with multiple eligible registrations — compared to only approximately 165,000 last year.
Around 96,000 people, largely from the tech industry, were responsible for those more than 400,000 entries, according to a Wall Street Journal report. These registrations have “raised serious concerns that some may have tried to gain an unfair advantage by working together to submit multiple registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary. This may have unfairly increased their chances of selection,” USCIS said in its announcement.
USCIS also said it was in the process of beginning criminal prosecution amid “extensive fraud investigations” regarding the applications.
The H-1B program has been under intense scrutiny in recent years. While the Biden administration pulled back various Trump administration H-1B policies, including one that would have set wage bands for H-1B workers, the program has strained under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Immigration reform has been a common refrain of the business community for years, but reform has been slow — if not nonexistent.
H-1B visas are specifically designed for “specialty occupations,” including engineering, physical and social sciences, medicine, education, law and other professions, but they are most commonly known for use in the tech sphere. Opponents of H-1B usage tend to believe the program keeps U.S. workers out of jobs, but progressive-leaning think tanks, including the Economic Policy Institute, have also said the program may “systematically rob” immigrant workers of fair wages.