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DOL ramping up investigations to tackle visa program fraud, abuse

Agency obtains first-ever preliminary injunction against Arizona farm

Posted June 9, 2017

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced actions to increase protections of American workers while more aggressively targeting visa program fraud and abuse.

The secretary determined that it is now the policy of the DOL to enforce vigorously all laws within its jurisdiction pertaining to non-immigrant visa programs, including:

  • Directing the department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to use all its tools in conducting civil investigations to enforce labor protections provided by the visa programs.
  • Directing the department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to develop proposed changes to the Labor Condition Application, and for the division to review their investigatory forms, to better identify systematic violations and potential fraud, and provide greater transparency for agency personnel, U.S. workers, and the general public.
  • Directing the WHD, ETA and the Office of the Solicitor to coordinate the administration and enforcement activities of the visa programs and make referrals of criminal fraud to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
  • Establishing a working group made up of senior leadership from ETA, the WHD, and Solicitor’s office to supervise this effort and coordinate enforcement to avoid duplication of efforts and maximize the efficiency of the department’s visa activities. The working group shall invite OIG to send representatives to participate in its efforts.

Historic preliminary injunction

Work has already begun on promoting the hiring of Americans and safeguarding working conditions in the U.S., according to the DOL. The agency has begun to prioritize and publicize the investigation and prosecution of entities in violation of visa programs.

For example, in the first legal action of its kind by the DOL, the agency obtained a preliminary injunction under the H-2A visa program from the U.S. District Court for Arizona against an Arizona farm for illegal and life-threatening housing provided to agricultural workers. The department continues to investigate the violations at the farm and has also been in contact with the OIG on this matter.

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