But Macmanus' letter does acknowledge that B-1 fraud is a problem, and notes that the State Department has "taken concrete steps to combat illegal work performed while in a B-1 status."
Those steps include "specific additional lines of questioning" at visa interviews conducted by consular officers. The officers now "probe for specific details," the letter said.
At one consulate, the B-1 visa refusal rate has since increased by 25%, Macmanus said.
Macmanus also disclosed that in the last year, "five large employers have been suspended from this program as a result of fraud discovered in visa applications filed by purported employees," he said. The suspended employers were not named in the letter.
Macmanus' letter also indicates that the State Department may be getting ready to remove or substantially change a provision in its rules that now allows workers to use a "B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa" if specific criteria are met.
Macmanus estimated that there are fewer than 1,000 B-1 in lieu of H-1B visas issued in any given year. In 2010, Indian nationals were issues 1,722 B-1 business visas, and 294,120 combination B-1/B-2 visas. The B-2 is a tourist visa.
Grassley said the State Department's "efforts are a step in the right direction, but more work will be needed in this area to ensure the integrity of our visa programs. This includes the ability for the department to maintain accurate statistics that will help us understand how we can better close loopholes to make sure that American workers are given first priority for jobs."
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