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Highlights

The H-2B visa program assists U.S. employers anticipating a shortage of domestic nonagricultural workers by permitting them to hire nonimmigrant foreign workers temporarily. The program is overseen by several agencies, including the Department of Labor (Labor), the Department of Homeland Security's United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of State. Employers often hire labor recruiters or other intermediaries to assist with the process of obtaining labor certifications and finding foreign workers. GAO was asked to determine if there were examples of recruiters and employers engaging in illegal or fraudulent activity within the H-2B visa program. GAO reviewed recent closed civil and criminal court cases involving H-2B workers, obtained data from Labor and USCIS on H-2B visas issued in fiscal years 2008 and 2009 and in first 6 months of fiscal year 2010, and interviewed advocacy groups that represent H-2B workers in litigation. In addition, GAO made undercover calls and site visits to recruiters, posing as H-2B employers and foreign H-2B workers and asked a series of questions related to legal requirements of the program. GAO also visited several H-2B housing and work site locations. Case studies and results of tests and site visits cannot be projected to the entire population of H-2B employers and recruiters.

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