As you all know H1B workers that are working in the United States can get a Social Security Number as a result of having that visa. The law also allows the H1B workers to only work for the sponsoring employer. In reality many H1B workers hold side jobs using that SSN number, that is illegal. A September 2011 OIG audit report on the use of Social Security Numbers (SSNs) by H-1B workers. The report claims that 18% of H-1B cases audited by SSA involved elements of fraud.
Each year, the Department of State (State) issues thousands of H-1B visas for temporary workers. Employers use the H-1B visa program to employ foreign workers in jobs that require theoretical or technical expertise in a specialized field. Specialty occupations include, but are not limited to, architect, engineer, computer programmer, accountant, doctor, and college professor. An individual in H-1B status may only work for his/her sponsoring employer after approval by the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security (DHS). The original period of admission for an H-1B nonimmigrant is 3 years, with optional extensions that cannot exceed 3 additional years.
Under the Social Security Act, the Social Security Administration (SSA) assigns SSNs to all nonimmigrants, including H-1B workers, who enter the United States with work authorization. To obtain an SSN, H-1B workers must provide SSA acceptable proof of age, identity, and lawful alien status/current authority to work.
Based on the results of the review, the report estimates about 7,131 (18 percent) of the 38,546 H-1B workers to whom SSA assigned an SSN in 2007 may have used their SSNs for purposes other than to work for their approved employer. This estimate includes about 4,433 (11 percent) H-1B workers who had posted wages during our audit period from an employer other than their DHS-approved employer. This estimate also includes about 2,698 (7 percent) H-1B workers who had no posted wages from 2007 through 2009.
Of the 38,546 H-1B workers to whom SSA assigned an SSN from January 1 through December 31, 2007, the report estimate SSA assigned about 7,131 (18 percent) to H-1B workers who may have used their SSNs for purposes other than to work for their approved employer.
Based on the results of this audit, the report estimates that thousands of H-1B workers may have used their SSNs for purposes other than to work for their approved employers. While the writers recognize SSA is not responsible for immigration enforcement, unauthorized work by nonimmigrants impacts the Agency by weakening SSN integrity. The report recognizes there is no easy way to fix this problem. However, they believe SSA has an opportunity to help address unauthorized work by nonimmigrants.
Accordingly, the report recommends that SSA contact DHS to offer to establish a data match agreement to assist DHS’ efforts to identify and reduce the number of H-1B workers who may use their SSNs for purposes other than to work for their approved employer.
Until employers and workers alike will realize, that having a Social Security number is not like having a right to work, such violations will continue. More education in this area, rather than enforcement may be a better way to go.