On June 6, 2017, in a Department of Labor (DOL) News Release, the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta, announced plans to increase protections of American workers and “aggressively confront” visa program fraud and abuse.

As a clear sign of a policy shift, Secretary Acosta directed the DOL to “enforce vigorously all laws within its jurisdiction governing the administration and enforcement of non-immigrant visa programs.” The following are specific actions meant to increase enforcement of visa program fraud and abuse. The DOL will:

  1. Direct its Wage and Hour Division to use all its tools to enforce labor protections provided by the visa program.
  2. Direct its Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to develop proposed changes to the Labor Condition Application, and for the division to review their investigatory forms, to better identify systematic violations and potential fraud, and provide greater transparency for agency personnel, U.S. workers, and the general public.
  3. Direct the division, ETA and the Office of the Solicitor to coordinate the administration and enforcement activities of the visa programs and make referrals of criminal fraud to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
  4. Establish a working group made of senior leadership from the ETA, the division and Solicitor’s office to supervise this effort and coordinate enforcement to avoid duplication of efforts and maximize the efficiency of the department’s activities regarding the visa programs. The working group shall invite the OIG to send representatives to participate in its efforts.

In addition, the DOL will continue to work with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to further investigate and detect visa program fraud and abuse.

The OIG has already focused substantial resources towards combating visa-related fraud schemes, and they recently provided a brief showing the significant results of their sustained efforts.

The previous administration did not always work actively with the Inspector General on pursuing cases of fraud and abuse of the visa program. The DOL’s focus on vigorously enforcing the U.S.’s visa programs is a part of the administration’s larger policy of putting America first.

The SWLG, P.C. team will keep you informed of any further developments regarding this matter.