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Senate Immigration Bill Proposes New Restrictions on Foreign Labor Recruiters


While the Senate immigration bill that passed in June of 2013 was widely heralded for its sweeping changes to the current U.S. immigration system including a possible path to citizenship, there were many changes that went largely unnoticed. Among the most important of these are the changes to foreign labor recruitment practices that have been ignored by the federal government in the past. In many countries the system for gaining entry to the U.S. is facilitated by extortionary and unscrupulous recruiters who make overblown promises of visas and lucrative American jobs in exchange for gigantic payments. The Senate bill proposes that these recruiters must register with the U.S. Department of Labor and adhere to strict practices.

As an immigration attorney in Texas, I have often encountered situations where a recruiter has promised a visa or high paying job in the U.S. when, in actuality, they could guarantee neither. The immense system of fraud and corruption that has developed in other countries has ruined countless lives.

In many countries, prospective immigrants pay recruiters to assist them obtain a visa and a U.S. job. This is in part due to the inordinate complexity of the U.S. immigration system and also a result of corruption in many countries. Even the most highly qualified workers are often at the mercy of these unsavory characters who often promise much more than they can deliver. Many workers who are promised high paying jobs land menial jobs that are virtually slavery.

Foreign recruiters who are actually able to facilitate the visa process may charge considerable sums in return for their assistance. Many Mexicans who work as fisherman had to pay up to $750 to obtain their visas through recruiters. Thai farmers working in Washington had to pay a go-between almost $21,000 to acquire a work permit.

The new system proposed by the U.S. Senate would help rid some of the corruption found in other countries by regulating these recruiters. Prior to recommending any workers to U.S. companies, these foreign labor contractors must register with the U.S. Department of Labor, submit their fingerprints and post a bond that may pay workers who win a suit against them. Following registration, these recruiters must follow U.S. policies and laws like the American with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act. They are also prohibited from charging for their assistance.

While there is room to doubt that the U.S. government can credibly regulate the practices of foreign recruiters, there is also substantial reason to hope these measures can succeed, at least in some countries. Many foreign governments have sought the aid of the U.S. to help crack down on these fraudulent contractors. Furthermore, many U.S. businesses are willing to assist in this policy to help streamline the recruitment system and attract the most qualified workers.

As a longtime immigration attorney, I understand that this new proposal has some worthy components, only time can tell if it will be effective. More importantly, it will depend upon Congress and the President to ultimately enact such a proposal.

Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC has represented its clients in a variety of immigration and family law cases with success. To discuss your case with an experienced legal professional, please call (512) 215-5225.

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