A leading Airbnb investor has called for an end to the US visa lottery and a review of how it is handled, after it was revealed that some applicants were not properly vetted.
In a letter published by CNBC on Monday, Peter Krikorian, CEO of the investor-owned company Re/code, called for a thorough review of the visa program and for the US government to “immediately halt any and all visas for anyone who has committed serious crimes or fraud”.
Mr Krikorians letter was published just days after Airbnb’s board met in Washington DC, to discuss the company’s latest earnings report.
In the letter, Mr Krakorian also called for Airbnb to immediately shut down its US operation and to end the lottery.
“I am calling on the US Department of Homeland Security and the Trump administration to immediately immediately halt any of the current visa programs and begin a new round of rigorous vetting of visa applicants,” Mr Krikaorian said.
“We are deeply concerned by the high number of people who are not only not fully vetted but also are committing crimes, committing fraud and other serious offenses.”
The visa lottery was launched in 2005, when Congress gave the US Treasury Department the power to issue new visas to foreign nationals with “extraordinary humanitarian or business ties” to the United States.
In 2012, the program received widespread criticism, particularly when it was announced that the lottery had issued more than 3 million visas in a single year.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has since introduced a system that requires foreign nationals to provide “substantial evidence of good moral character” before being allowed into the country.
The program is not currently set to end, with Mr Krikorian’s letter calling for it to continue indefinitely.
However, Airbnb has faced increased criticism over its treatment of its domestic staff, including allegations of mistreatment.
In September, Airbnb fired three top US executives in the wake of a federal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, while also being forced to lay off more than 200 employees and lay off several employees.
The company has faced criticism from lawmakers and consumer groups in recent months, with lawmakers demanding that the US go beyond its current visa lottery, which is set to expire in December.
Airbnb said it was looking into the allegations.
In its letter, the investor said it has also “grave concerns” about the process for applying for the visa lottery.
Airbnb’s CEO Peter Krakójorian has called on the government to halt any visa programs.
(Reuters: Jonathan Ernst) “We understand the public concerns, but we also know that this program needs to be reformed, and it needs to end,” Mr Krokorian said in the letter.
Airbnb has been criticised for its treatment on staff.
Last month, the company was forced to apologise for its “toxic workplace culture” following the publication of a damning report that revealed that it was not properly vetting its staff, and had a “zero tolerance” for discrimination.
The report found that more than 30 employees had been fired in just the past year, with employees complaining of discrimination and retaliation.
Airbnb admitted that its hiring practices were “not good enough”.
However, Mr Krokrian insisted that Airbnb’s hiring practices “are not at fault”.
“The visa lottery has a serious negative impact on our ability to hire the best talent,” Mr Klekorian added.
“A large portion of the US workforce is being exploited by a few large companies who abuse the visa system.”
The company said in a statement that it is “committed to improving our hiring practices, including the ability to match qualified applicants with employees who will provide value for their company”.
In response to the investor’s letter, Airbnb said in its own statement that “all of our international employees are vetted through the US Visa Waiver Program through the Office of Personnel Management.”
We are working with our partners to further address the issues raised by the letter and take the necessary actions to address the concerns.
“Airbnb has since been hit with a class-action lawsuit in New York State.