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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has been expanding and increasing compliance site visits of H-1B employers. The agency’s Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit is adding staff and stepping up its targeted H-1B site visits in particular, as well as piloting targeted site visits of L-1B employers.
Employers should anticipate more targeted visits and prepare their H and L workers, as well as frontline staff, on what to expect if they are visited by USCIS officers.
What to expect during a targeted site visit:
Background: The FDNS unit first introduced administrative site visits of H and L employers in 2009. In 2017, the USCIS Office of Inspector General released a report that was critical of the site visit program’s effectiveness. In response, USCIS adopted several recommendations, including the introduction of targeted site visits.
While the agency is continuing random ASVVP visits, it has taken steps to shift its focus to conduct more targeted visits. FDNS entered into information-sharing agreements with the Justice Department and the Labor Department to increase visibility with representations being made between the agencies on various application types. Following President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order in April 2017, USCIS issued a policy guidance entitled “Putting American Workers First: USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Fraud and Abuse.” The more targeted approach focuses H-1B site visits on (1) cases where USCIS is unable to verify the employer’s information through commercially available data, (2) H-1B dependent employers, and (3) companies that petition for H-1B workers who work off-site at another employer’s location.
BAL Analysis: H-1B and L-1 employers are encouraged to conduct internal reviews of their files to make sure they are in compliance and are prepared for a site visit by USCIS. Additionally, employers should be proactive in designating a contact in the event of a site visit by training HR staff and mobility teams, as well as H-1B and L-1 workers, about the possibility of a USCIS inspection, how to respond, and which documents are and are not covered by these types of audits. BAL can assist in these processes and provide guidance for employers on how to deal with the various type of USCIS site visits.
This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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