As part of the Trump Administration’s “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (BCA) is joining with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to combat both visa fraud and potential discrimination against U.S. workers. The partnership between the two agencies is based upon a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that focuses on information-sharing.
The Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) on citizenship or national origin discrimination in the hiring, firing, or recruiting of employees. Traditionally, this agency focused on discrimination against foreign-born workers, but the Trump Administration has shifted the focus to the impact of visas on the U.S. worker. The BCA, among other things, strengthens U.S. border security by reviewing and adjudicating immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications abroad.
Under the MOU, the agencies “will share information about employers that may be engaging in unlawful discrimination, committing fraud, or making other misrepresentations in their use of employment-based visas, such as H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B visas.” The MOU also says that, although injured parties can file complaints with the Civil Rights Division (the IER), the IER may initiate independent investigations “if there is reason to believe unlawful discrimination has occurred.” This agreement is part of the Department of Justice’s Protecting U.S. Workers’ Initiative, launched in February 2017, to defend U.S. workers from discrimination by employers who favor foreign visa workers.
This recent collaboration between the DOJ and BCA is another part of the Trump Administration’s efforts to scrutinize H visa applications. In August 2017, the Foreign Affairs Manual was changed to encourage Consular Officers to consider whether there might be some aspect of fraud being committed as they adjudicate H-1B and other visa applications. With the new agreement in place between the BCA and the IER, any information gathered through personal interviews of visa applicants at the Consulates can be transmitted easily not only back to the USCIS for possible revocation of a petition, but also to the IER for possible investigation.
If you have any questions about visa interviews abroad and their possible ramifications, please contact your Jackson Lewis attorney.