H-1B employees may benefit from the U.S. immigration service’s announcement it is stepping up efforts to target employers who are violating the immigration laws.

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano reaffirmed her commitment last week to shift DHS’s focus to prosecuting employers hiring undocumented workers, rather than concentrating on employees.  In recent years, the immigration service has faced criticism for its mass arrests and deportations of undocumented workers in alleged violation of due process laws.

Whether this shift in strategy will result in more investigations into H-1B employers who violate the immigration laws remains to be seen. In recent months, however, the media has carried stories on prosecutions of H-1B employers for immigration-related fraud following joint investigations by USCIS, ICE and DOL, signaling an intensified concentration on this sector of employers.

The H-2B visa has also witnessed its share of allegations of employer-driven fraud. In particular, the Department of Justice announced 12 people were indicted by a federal grand jury on RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) charges related to labor racketeering, forced labor trafficking and immigration and other violations in 14 states.  Some of those charges stemmed from violations of the H-2B visa regulations.

If you an H-1B employee who has been benched without pay and want to know more about your rights, please read the following articles: