Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the H-1B program's implementation and implications for the American workforce, focusing on: (1) the jobs that H-1B workers are filling in the United States and the characteristics of those workers; (2) the adequacy of the H-1B visa program's implementation and enforcement; and (3) efforts underway to improve information technology (IT) skills in the American workforce.
Matter for Congressional Consideration
|Given the limited nature of DOL's review of labor condition applications (LCA) consider streamlining the H-1B approval process by eliminating the separate requirement that employers first submits an LCA to DOL for certification. Instead, Congress could require employers to submit an LCA and the I-129 petition simultaneously to INS, which will continue to review and evaluate the information contained on both the LCA and the petition.||In its comments on the report, Labor's Wage and Hour Division did not favor this action. Moreover, since this report was issued, tremendous changes have occurred that necessitated a significant reorganization of INS. Given these changes and the current political climate, it does not appear that Congress will take any action on this matter in the near future.|
|If Congress wished to broaden DOL's enforcement authority and improve its ability to enforce relevant provisions in the H-1B law, it could consider, at a minimum, giving DOL's Wage and Hour Division subpoena power to obtain employers' records during investigations under the H-1B program. It could also consider allowing DOL to perform baseline evaluations to determine the extent of employers' compliance with H-1B requirements and conduct subsequent targeted efforts to address suspected noncompliance or abuse.||Labor stated that it has long urged Congress to reconsider and expand the narrow limits of its enforcement authority. The 108th Congress considered these issues and introduced a bill in both houses (S. 1452 and H.R. 2849) that allows the Secretary of Labor to initiate an investigation of any employer that hires H-1B visa workers if the Secretary has reasonable cause to believe that the employer is not in compliance with H-1B requirements. Senator Dodd, who introduced the bill in the Senate, testified that the bill "will finally provide the Labor Department with authority it currently lacks to investigate potential violators of the law and to impose sanctions." Both bills have been referred to committee.|
Recommendations for Executive Action
|United States Citizenship and Immigration Services||To improve INS' ability to prevent H-1B visa abuse and better serve customers, the Attorney General should direct the Commissioner of INS to expand upon INS' current efforts to standardize H-1B adjudication procedures by: (1) providing practical guidance to help adjudicators assess the adequacy or sufficiency of documentation and determine when and how to request additional documentation from employers; and (2) having adjudicators document adherence to standard procedures when reviewing petitions.|
|Management Directorate||To improve INS' ability to prevent H-1B visa abuse and better serve customers, the Attorney General should direct the Commissioner of INS to provide easy access to case-specific information for adjudicators when reviewing petitions as a part of the current upgrade of its computer system.|
|Management Directorate||To improve INS' ability to prevent H-1B visa abuse and better serve customers, the Attorney General should direct the Commissioner of INS to enhance existing supervisory review and performance appraisal systems so that adjudicators are held accountable for the correct assessment of petitions as well as for the quantity of reviews they complete.|