A recent federal interagency agreement is looking to identify potential violations by employers of statutes and regulations governing the processes for seeking employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
Under a recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that “a framework has been established to manage and maintain information sharing and interagency case referrals relating to employer discrimination against qualified U.S. workers carrying visas.”
The objective of the MOU is to better detect and eliminate fraud, abuse, and discrimination by employers bringing foreign visa workers to the United States. It is expected to increase the ability of the agencies to share information and help identify, investigate, and prosecute employers who may be discriminating against U.S. workers and/or violating immigration laws.
The MOU is consistent with the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative launched by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in 2017. That initiative is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of foreign visa workers. According to a press release, the initiative has resulted in one lawsuit, settlement agreements being reached with two employers and repayment of more than $200,000 in back pay to affected U.S. workers.
Under this new MOU, employers that regularly hire non-U.S. citizens and violate the law may be subject to more penalties, payments of back wages, legal scrutiny and worksite visits and investigations. Employers need to be mindful that their employment practices and policies reflect the latest immigration laws and related legislation.