On June 6, 2017, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) will conduct increased enforcement efforts encompassing all of the foreign visa worker programs it administers, including the H-1B specialty occupation non-immigrant visa, H-2A and H-2B seasonal and agricultural worker visa programs, as well as the permanent foreign labor certification program.

The stated goal of the secretary and the department is to protect American workers. The secretary stated that legal action against abuses in the program by U.S. employers and others are being targeted with the goal of criminal convictions of violators of these programs.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor will instruct its Wage and Hour Division to "use all its tools" to conduct civil probes, ramping up criminal referrals to the department’s Inspector General and instructing its Employment and Training Administration offices to propose specific changes to the H-1B labor condition application process when U.S. employers file mandatory preliminary prevailing wage attestations with the goal of hiring foreign skilled and foreign professional nationals and guest workers.

With this announcement, the U.S. Department of Labor states as its goal the focus on efforts to identify systemic violations and potential fraud in order to furnish transparency for agency personnel, U.S. workers and the general public. The secretary’s statement indicated that there will be ramped-up efforts to make referrals for criminal fraud to the Office of the Inspector General.

The announcement by the secretary also indicated that there will be substantive resources devoted to visa-related fraud schemes in the H-1B context, and he has publicized the department’s achievements in combating fraud in the H-1B program to date.

The steps announced by Secretary Acosta clearly signal that the U.S. Department of Labor, in conjunction with other government agencies, will be stepping up efforts at aggressive confrontation of visa program fraud and abuse