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Trust but sometimes verify: Regulatory enforcement in attestation‐based immigration programs

Ben A. Rissing

Regulation & Governance, 2022, vol. 16, issue 1, 327-354

Abstract: This study examines a little‐known but prolific form of regulation: organizations' self‐reported compliance attestations. The paper presents systematic analyses of multiple assessment procedures in the U.S. Department of Labor's (DoL) labor certification program, a frequent requirement for immigrant employment‐based permanent residency. In applications, employers attest to (i) recruiting a qualified immigrant and (ii) the lack of available U.S. workers. DoL assessment procedures to evaluate compliance include: reviewing attestations alone, auditing for supporting documentation (due to agent discretion, random selection, or automated triggers), or inspecting employer activities (due to agent discretion or automated triggers). Administrative records reveal differential approval by assessment procedure, and interviews reveal selective enforcement of DoL regulatory mandates. Reviews of attestations alone (95.9 percent approved) generally targeted employers' hiring of a qualified immigrant. Assessment procedures involving auditing and inspection granted fewer approvals and frequently also examined U.S. worker availability. Findings emphasize case sorting as a key process shaping enforcement.

Date: 2022
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https://doi.org/10.1111/rego.12321

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