By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law



After investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), two companies have been assessed fines for violations of the H-1B and H-2B visa programs. The two companies, Biltmore Co. a/k/a Biltmore Estate, based in Asheville, North Carolina, and Login Consulting Services Inc., a staffing and recruitment company based in El Segundo, California, have paid civil penalties and back wages to applicable employees.

Biltmore Estate paid a civil penalty of $24,076 and $6,938 in back wages to a U.S. applicant for violating labor provisions of the H-2B visa program. WHD determined even though one U.S. applicant applied for and maintained his interest in a cook position with Biltmore Estate, the company considered him overqualified and did not hire him, hiring instead a guest worker through the H-2B visa program. This action resulted in a violation of the H-2B program's labor provisions, which mandate that participating employers must hire qualified U.S. workers over non-immigrant applicants. WHD also found the employer failed to disclose to U.S. applicants that a reduced weekly housing rate was available to employees that participated in a housing committee. Biltmore Estate offered the reduced rate, which qualified as an additional benefit, only to non-immigrant employees.

Login Consulting Services, a provider of employees in positions relating to software development, computer engineering, and business data analysis, paid $58,815 to two employees after violating the H-1B foreign labor certification program. WHD investigators found the employer illegally charged one employee for visa petition fees, which the law requires the employer to pay, and “benched” that worker. The investigation also found Login Consulting Services paid another employee less than the hourly rate guaranteed in the Labor Conditions Application they submitted when applying to the H-1B program, resulting in another violation.

These decisions reflect the need to carefully comply with the laws when utilizing non-immigrant visa programs. If you want to know more information on issues related to employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.