The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has expressed concerns over the number of applications for visas in the technology industry. For the second year in a row, the number of applications for H-1B visas has significantly increased. There were 780,884 applications in this year’s lottery, a 61% increase from last year’s 483,927, and a 57% increase from the 308,613 applications received the year before that.
The H-1B visa program is a popular route for technology giants such as Google, Facebook, and IBM, Microsoft or Amazon to hire skilled foreign workers in speciality occupations that require technical or theoretical expertise. Each year, the US government allows up to 85,000 individuals to be selected for H-1B visas. However, concerns have been raised that some applicants may be attempting to manipulate the system to gain an unfair advantage.
“The large number of eligible registrations for beneficiaries with multiple eligible registrations — much larger than in previous years — has raised grave concerns that some may have tried to use fraudulent efforts by working together to submit multiple registrations on behalf of the same beneficiary. This may have unfairly increased their chances of selection,” the agency wrote.
USCIS said it has “undertaken extensive fraud investigations” based on lottery submissions from the last two years, denied some petitions and is “in the process” of referring some cases to federal prosecutors for possible crimes.
The number of registrations tied to people who applied more than once rose to 408,891 this year from 165,180 last year and 90,143 the year before.
The agency also said, “We remain committed to deterring and preventing abuse of the registration process, and to ensuring only those who follow the law are eligible to file an H-1B cap petition,” the agency said
The federal agency warned that if information provided by an applicant or company was incorrect, it will find the registration to not be properly submitted and the prospective petition would be rejected. Furthermore, USCIS may also refer the individual or entity who submitted a false attestation to appropriate law enforcement agencies for further action as appropriate, it said.
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