Despite recent upturns in the economy, the U.S. has not significantly increased the number of H1-B visas. Foreign job seekers may find themselves victims of H1-B visa fraud and abuse.
Headhunters and corporations commit H1-B visa fraud when they attempt to fill positions that do not exist. This type of fraud can result in a headhunter, officers of a corporation, or corporation being charged with violations of federal law. Individuals may be subjected to fines and terms of imprisonment. Corporations may face sanctions and fines.
H1-B visa fraud typically involves a foreign job seeker who wants to be considered for a job, get a job, or keep a job. A headhunter or corporation may go so far as to submit fraudulent worker petitions and educational credentials to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS). The foreign job seeker is victimized because the headhunter or corporation charges them a large fee to obtain possible employment.
The job seeker then learns the job does not exist and is not reimbursed their fee. Even if a foreign job seeker is victimized, they may be subject to penalties if they have knowingly participated in fraud or abuse. One way to engage in fraud is to create false documents for submission to the U.S. government.
Foreign job seekers who are recent graduates from American educational institutions are also at risk of losing time, a commodity that may be more valuable to them than money. Foreign job seekers who graduate from American institutions typically have 12 months to find employment on a H1-B visa. If the job that they counted on getting turns out not to exist, they may have to return to their country of origin.
H1-B visa abuse usually involves a foreign job seeker paying for the cost of processing and sponsoring their H1-B visa application. This may take place directly through a salary reduction. It can also occur indirectly through under-the-table payments or bonds. U.S. federal law prohibits employers from charging foreign job seekers for costs related to H1-B visas. Federal law also prohibits employers from paying workers on a H1-B visa a lower wages than U.S. citizens if both groups have similar experience and qualifications.
When a person who is not a U.S. resident is convicted of a crime involving H1-B visa fraud or abuse, they may be required to return to their country of origin. There they may face additional penalties.