The Department of Labor has released a new online tool to help employers and employees understand how to comply with the H-1B visa program. This is part of the agency’s new compliance initiatives.
As background, the H-1B non-immigrant visa classification was created under the Immigration and Nationality Act to help U.S. employers who cannot obtain workers with needed skills from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the employment of qualified foreign workers under the H-1B visa program. The program establishes certain standards to protect similarly employed U.S. workers from being adversely affected by the employment of foreign H-1B workers, as well as to protect H-1B workers themselves. See http://www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/h1b.htm.
DOL’s new online H-1B Advisor addresses solely the Labor Condition Application requirements enforced by the agency’s Wage and Hour Division. This helps employers to determine whether they have complied with the H-1B Wage and Hour requirements and provides all employees and any interested individual detailed information and instructions with regard to filing a complaint against a U.S. employer believed not in compliance with the regulations.
The interactive, online H-1B Advisor describes the program’s standards and provides detailed information concerning H-1B employers’ and workers’ rights and responsibilities. Users can determine if they fulfill the requirements of the visa program by answering questions relevant to specific H-1B classified workers. The H-1B Advisor also outlines the obligations imposed on H-1B employers, including notification requirements, monetary issues (obligation to pay, required wage rates, permissible deductions, benching, credits, termination, early termination penalty/liquidated damages issues), worksite issues, recordkeeping, and worker protections (whistleblower protection and displacement of U.S. workers), enforcement (filing a complaint against an employer, defenses, remedies and appeals process) and other requirements for employers deemed to be H-1B dependent or willful violators.
The H-1B Advisor provides excellent resources to employers and employees in understanding the H-1B employers’ obligations and the workers’ (H-1B or U.S. workers) rights. Of course, given the readily available resources, employers must be vigilant in maintaining consistent and coherent corporate visa-sponsorship policies and procedures to ensure their immigration compliance efforts.