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Business News/ News / World/  USCIS raises concern over H-1B visas ‘abuse’, launches ‘extensive fraud investigations’
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USCIS raises concern over H-1B visas ‘abuse’, launches ‘extensive fraud investigations’

USCIS said some H-1B visa applicants may be attempting to manipulate the system to gain an unfair advantage.

The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.Premium
The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has expressed concerns over the number of applications for visas in the technology industry. For the second year in a row, the number of applications for H-1B visas has increased. There were 780,884 applications in this year's lottery, a 61% increase from last year's 483,927, and a 57% increase from the 308,613 applications received the year before that.

The H-1B visa program is a popular route for technology giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and IBM to hire skilled foreign workers. Each year, the US government allows up to 85,000 individuals to be selected for H-1B visas. However, concerns have been raised that some applicants may be attempting to manipulate the system to gain an unfair advantage.

“The large number of eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations — much larger than in previous years — has 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," the agency wrote.

USCIS said it has “undertaken extensive fraud investigations" based on lottery submissions from the last two years, denied some petitions and is “in the process" of referring some cases to federal prosecutors for possible crimes.

The number of registrations tied to people who applied more than once rose to 408,891 this year from 165,180 last year and 90,143 the year before.

The agency also said, "We remain committed to deterring and preventing abuse of the registration process, and to ensuring only those who follow the law are eligible to file an H-1B cap petition," the agency said

H-1B visas have been a controversial topic in the immigration debate, particularly in the tech industry. Critics argue that they are used to replace US citizens and permanent residents. However, tech companies argue that they are essential for filling hard-to-fill positions, even as they have had to lay off workers in other areas. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 28 Apr 2023, 10:50 PM IST
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