A notice to employers from the US government reported by the Wall Street Journal to be released on April 28 alleges that a small number of tech companies have attempted to cheat the H1B lottery system by entering the same applicants in the lottery multiple times. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that this was done to increase the chances of these companies being awarded a visa.
According to USCIS, these multiple entries are part of the reason why H1B visa applications have increased exponentially from 478,000 entries last year to 708,000 entries this year, all competing for 85,000 H1B visa slots. The agency alleges that approximately 96,000 people submitted multiple entries in this year’s H1B lottery.
While it is not illegal for multiple companies to submit H1B visa applications on a single worker’s behalf, it could be potentially fraudulent if those companies do not have an actual job opening for that person, or plan to immediately lay off that employee or contract them to a third party so they can switch companies.
USCIS has not yet named the companies that allegedly have attempted to cheat the H1B lottery, but they do state that all have been referred to federal law enforcement for potential criminal prosecution.
One possible reason for the increase in fraud may be the new H1B registration system, which was instituted by the Trump administration and has continued under the Biden administration. In contrast to the past system that required every company to submit a complex application and pay large fees to enter the lottery, the system since 2020 has only required prospective applicants to submit their names and pay a $10 fee. It is possible that this new system, while much more streamlined, has made it too easy for companies to submit multiple applications for the same employees to increase their likelihood of being awarded a visa.
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