Letter to Jock Scharfen, Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Re: Assessment of H-1B Program
GRASSLEY, COLLINS: FRAUD ASSESSMENT OF H-1B PROGRAM LONG OVERDUE
Senators Chuck Grassley and Susan Collins today sent a letter to the Acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services, Jock Scharfen, to reiterate the need for completion of a fraud assessment of the H-1B visa program.
"For years I've been hearing of fraud within the H-1B visa program, and a benefits fraud assessment can give Congress important information before we proceed with any legislation to increase the supply of these visas," Grassley said. "Completion of the assessment is long overdue, especially since Congress provided the agency with $1 million to get it done."
"Many American businesses rely on the H-1B visa program," said Collins. "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 engineering, sciences, medicine, health, and other specialties. Unfortunately, there has been a long history of some unscrupulous employers attempting to abuse the H-1B program and it is important that a fraud assessment be completed as soon as possible."
Collins has introduced legislation designed to prevent fraud of the current H-1B visa program. The H-1B Visa Fraud Prevention Act would crack down on employers who obtain H-1B visas in one state, but transfer them to an employer in another state.
Grassley is also leading the effort to close loopholes and enact reform in the H-1B visa program. He introduced a comprehensive H-1B and L visa reform bill last year with Senator Dick Durbin that would give priority to American workers and crack down on unscrupulous employers who deprive qualified Americans of high-skill jobs. Last month, Grassley wrote to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asking them to bring up legislation to enact H-1B reform before moving legislation to increase the supply of H-1B visas.
Here is a copy of the letter to Citizenship and Immigration Services.
April 22, 2008
The Honorable Jock Scharfen
Acting Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
20 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20529
Dear Director Scharfen:
We write to remind you about a provision included in the Senate's Fiscal Year 2008 Homeland Security Appropriations bill that provided $1 million for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to complete a benefits fraud assessment of the H-1B visa program. This provision was included in the final omnibus spending bill that was signed by the President in December. We write to follow up on the progress of the assessment of the H-1B visa program.
We understand that the Fraud Detection National Security Unit (FDNS) has been working on a benefits fraud assessment of the H-1B program since 2006. In fact, your office began by conducting a review of a sample of H-1B applications filed between October 1, 2005, and March 31, 2006. While we appreciated the briefings provided by your staff on the status of their investigation in May 2007, we are concerned that your agency still has not committed to a timetable for the completion of this important project. Consequently, we would like to inquire about the following:
1. What is the current status of the H-1B Benefits Fraud Assessment?
2. What has been learned since the briefing last May?
3. When does your agency anticipate completing the assessment?
4. What is the status of the appropriation provided to USCIS, specifically how much has been expended and what is the plan for the funding through the end of this fiscal year?
We hope that the results of the review are forthcoming so that any fraud indicators that are identified as a result of the assessment can be incorporated into the H-1B visa issuance process. We are concerned that prolonging the completion of the report will be detrimental to the integrity of the H-1B visa program and, therefore, urge you to commit to a reasonable timetable for completing the report.
We appreciate your attention to this matter, and look forward to hearing more about the status of the assessment.
Susan M. Collins
United States Senator
Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator