By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Justice Department, acting through the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the Civil Rights Division, has reached a settlement agreement with CFA Institute (CFAI), an international association of investment professionals. The settlement resolves an investigation into whether CFAI violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by preferring to hire H-1B visa holders over U.S. workers when it selected CFAI exam graders from its members.

The investigation concluded that from at least November 2016 through January 2018, CFAI set aside annual exam-grading positions for its members who required or had H-1B visas or other high-skill temporary visas, based on their citizenship status. The IER concluded CFAI failed to consider equally qualified U.S. workers for such positions. The INA prohibits employers from discriminating in the hiring process based on a worker’s citizenship status or national origin. Refusing to hire U.S. citizens, or setting aside positions for visa holders, because of their citizenship status violates the INA.
Under the settlement, CFAI will pay $321,000 in civil penalties to the United States, require certain employees to attend training on the INA’s anti-discrimination provision, through an IER webinar, and be subject to departmental monitoring and reporting requirements for three years.

This is the fifth settlement under the Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, which is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of temporary visa workers. Since the Initiative’s inception, employers have agreed to pay or have distributed over $320,000 in back pay to affected U.S. workers.

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