DOJ Cracks Down on Visa Violations

The U.S. Department of Justice has settled its first action involving H-1B visa holders brought under the Civil Rights Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative. The DOJ settled over allegations that a Virginia investment professionals association, CFA Institute (CFAI), discriminated against U.S. workers by preferring to hire foreign H-1B visa workers.

Grassroots groups seeking to raise awareness of visa abuse issues and change laws to protect the jobs of U.S. citizens applaud the DOJ’s work in opening dozens of cases under the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative.

CFAI Required to Pay Penalties in Anti-Discrimination Settlement

CFAI will pay $321,000 in penalties under the settlement for violating the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act by preferring to hire visa holders instead of U.S. citizens when selecting exam graders from its members. Additionally, CFAI will train its employees on the rules of the Immigration and Nationality Act and will undergo monitoring and reporting requirements.

According to reports, CFAI had set aside exam-grading jobs for workers who needed H-1B visas or other similar visas, and “in doing so, CFAI failed to consider equally qualified U.S. workers for such positions.”

In a press release Monday, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said, “The Civil Rights Division works diligently to stop employers from unlawfully denying employment opportunities to qualified and available U.S. workers.”

In actions involving other visas:

H-2B

In September 2018, the DOJ settled with South Carolina’s Palmetto Beach Hospitality LLC, for wrongly hiring temporary workers under the H-2B visa program for housekeeping positions over “qualified and available” U.S. applicants, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Under the settlement, Palmetto was required to pay $35,000 in back pay to compensate U.S. workers whose applications were improperly denied, as well as $42,000 in civil penalties.

H-2A

In September 2017, the DOJ filed its first suit under the initiative, which kicked off in February 2017, accusing Loveland, Colorado-based Crop Production Services Inc. of discriminating against American workers by refusing to hire three U.S. citizens as seasonal technicians in El Campo, Texas, because it preferred hiring temporary H-2A workers.

The DOJ says the company placed additional burdens on U.S. workers to discourage them from working at the Texas facility by requiring them, but not the H-2A workers, to complete background checks and drug tests before being allowed to start work, among other things. The alleged conduct violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, according to the DOJ.

Additionally, the DOJ has announced collaborations with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of Labor in cracking down on violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

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