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Hundreds of H-1B Seekers Sue Over Program’s ‘Rampant Fraud’ (1)

June 29, 2021, 4:57 PMUpdated: June 29, 2021, 6:06 PM

Several hundred H-1B visa applicants are suing the Department of Homeland Security over alleged “rampant fraud and abuse” in a Trump-era system of registration and distribution of the specialty worker visas.

The prior administration’s online registration system, created by a 2019 rule, has sparked a whole industry of consultant firms and fake employers to register on applicants’ behalf multiple times to boost the individuals’ chances of selection, and the rule must be thrown out, the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote in a complaint filed late Monday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington.

“Because the current selection process is based on the number of registrations, rather than on an individual basis, individuals with multiple registrations have considerably higher probabilities of being selected,” according to the complaint. “The probabilities dwindle significantly for individuals with only one registration,” it continued, adding that the plaintiffs had seen their chances decline for this reason.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a unit of DHS, makes 65,000 of these visas available for individuals with bachelor’s degrees, and offers another 20,000 to non-U.S. residents with advanced degrees each year. Demand vastly exceeds supply.

Another rule altering the processing of H-1B visas in the waning days of then-President Donald Trump’s tenure—switching from a random lottery to a system favoring employers offering the highest salaries—also has prompted lawsuits.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and USCIS also were named as defendants in the complaint, a copy of which was provided to Bloomberg Law by counsel for the plaintiffs. The as-filed document wasn’t immediately available online.

Spokespeople for DHS didn’t immediately respond to email requests for comment on the allegations. A USCIS spokesperson said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The case is Liu v. Mayorkas, D.D.C., 21-cv-01725

(Updated with comment from USCIS in seventh paragraph. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia O'Neal in Washington at loneal@bloombergtax.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com

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