U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin full implementation of L-1 site visits in the near future, according to Sarah Kendall, associate director of the Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Directorate.

Speaking at a USCIS teleconference for stakeholders on April 24, Kendall said that the site visits will be rolled out in phases for different categories of L-1 beneficiaries. The first phase of inspections will be triggered only when an employer files for an extension of status of an L-1A employee (Form I-129) with a USCIS Service Center. The program will later expand to other L-1 categories. Employers will be randomly selected for site visits and are not targeted based on suspected fraud. However, the visits are generally conducted without notice.

The FDNS began making unannounced visits to L-1 sites early this year following a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General that recommended increased site visits as one way to monitor the L-1 visa program for fraud.

The FDNS, which also conducts routine inspections of H-1B employers, created the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP) in 2009. During a site visit, inspectors will interview L-1 beneficiaries to verify work locations, hours, salaries and duties; review documents to confirm the accuracy of information in L-1 petitions; and take photos. FDNS officers will then review the information and conduct an administrative inquiry if necessary. If, after an administrative inquiry, FDNS finds that information in the petition cannot be confirmed or reconciled with the site visit, it may request additional evidence from the petitioner or start proceedings to deny or revoke the petition. If FDNS suspects fraud, it can conduct additional inquiries or refer the case to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to open a criminal investigation.

BAL Analysis: L-1 beneficiaries, particularly those seeking extensions for L-1A employees, should be aware that USCIS is scaling up its on-site inspections and be prepared for possible random FDNS visits without notice. Blanket L-1 employees are not currently targeted for inspection.

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