United States: Labor Secretary Announces Increased Civil and Criminal Immigration Enforcement
The agency plans to increase aggressively its scrutiny of employer compliance with nonimmigrant program rules, including pursuing criminal fraud and abuse.
Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta today announced that his agency will more aggressively enforce Department of Labor rules to combat fraud and abuse in employment-based nonimmigrant visa programs. The agency will step up civil investigations of employers' compliance with foreign labor wage rules, and also plans to increase its exercise of authority to refer cases of alleged criminal fraud to its Office of Inspector General or to the U.S. Department of Justice.
DOL's enforcement initiatives include:
- Increased audits and investigations of employers to ensure that they are complying with H-1B, H-1B1, E-3, H-2A and H-2B program rules.
- Changes to the labor condition application (LCA) to give DOL greater capacity to identify employer violations and potential fraud.
- Greater transparency in DOL foreign labor programs, which could include more public disclosure of information about employers who use foreign labor programs.
- Increased coordination across DOL investigatory and enforcement units. This includes greater involvement of the DOL Inspector General, which has the authority to pursue criminal actions against program violators. Earlier this year, DOL also suggested it would seek legislative changes to broaden its authority to initiate administrative investigations, which is largely complaint-driven under current law.
The Secretary's announcement comes just a few months after the Trump Administration declared that the Departments of Homeland Security, Labor and Justice would coordinate initiatives to increase scrutiny of the H-1B program and toughen employment-based immigration enforcement.
What This Means for Employers
DOL's announcement is the latest step in the Trump Administration's plan to intensify its compliance and enforcement focus on employment-based immigration programs. Some of DOL's planned initiatives - notably, changes to the LCA form and process - will take time to implement and require public feedback. Others can be implemented immediately. Employers can expect more frequent worksite audits and investigations as the agency works to coordinate enforcement across its own divisions and with the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.
The government's plans for intensified civil and criminal enforcement activity means that it is more important than ever for employers to carry out a careful risk assessment and to have a comprehensive, effective and tailored immigration compliance program. If you have questions about compliance, please contact your Fragomen immigration professional or the firm's Government Strategies and Compliance Group.
This alert is for informational purposes only.