A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, requested by Senate Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins, has revealed significant fraudulent practices in the H-1B visa program. DHS determined that there was a 21 percent rate of statutory and regulatory violations in applications for the program and that 13.4 percent contained fraud.

“There is a serious problem with outright fraud in the H-1B visa program,” said Senator Susan Collins. “The approval of these fraudulent petitions poses a real risk to our national security, because if these foreign workers don’t end up working for their identified employer then we may never know why they actually came to the United States or their current whereabouts.”

When employers can demonstrate that there are too few U.S. workers to fill particular positions with defined education and skills standards, the H-1B program allows temporary, non-immigrant workers to fill vacancies in highly-skilled professions. Due to a long history of fraud in the program, Sen. Collins added language to last year’s DHS appropriations law to direct the Department to complete its fraud assessment of the program. As a result, DHS reviewed a sample of H-1B petitions and conducting site visits to employers. Violations included employees working in locations not specified in their applications or for shell companies with no legitimate business operations, fraudulent or forged documents, and job duties different than those on the application.

“To protect our nation and ensure that legitimate business needs are met, DHS must incorporate the lessons learned from its assessment and work aggressively to eliminate fraud in the H-1B visa program,” said Sen. Collins.

Senator Collins has repeatedly called for DHS to investigate allegations of fraud in the H-1B visa program. She also introduced the H-1B Visa Fraud Prevention Act (S. 31) to help detect and investigate employers who do not have legitimate business operations and who intend only to transfer H-1B workers they receive to another employer. It would remove the numerous restrictions currently in place on Department of Labor’s ability to investigate H-1B visa abuse. Under the bill, the Department would be able to investigate applications that have clear indicators of fraud or misrepresentation, instead of simply checking for completeness and inaccuracies, as the current law provides. Additionally, the bill would eliminate the current provision that requires that the Secretary of Labor approve each individual investigation. It also would double current fines to deter further abuse of the H-1B system.