USCIS IS CONDUCTING H-1B SITE VISITS!
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has commenced deploying contract inspectors to perform thousands of on site inspections of petitioning employers who have sponsored H-1B specialty occupation visa employees. The inspection program is funded through the mandatory $500 "Anti-Fraud" Fee, one of the government fees that employers pay when sponsoring an H-1B specialty occupation worker.
These inspections represent a new initiative in Department of Homeland Security enforcement efforts, following the issuance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Services audits of 650 I-9 audits in a single week in June 2009. Reviews are slated initially to take place in 28 cities, with employers selected on a random basis.
The site visits will be conducted without advance notice and are focused on identifying fraudulently filed H-1B petitions. Inspectors are seeking verification that the sponsoring company is a bona fide, operating business entity and that the foreign worker is employed in the capacity for which s/he was sponsored. In addition, inspectors have been charged with looking for specific types of fraud, including false documentation and false claims of employment. To date, reports of visits include accounts that inspectors want to meet and interview the H-1B worker, confirm the employee's identity, meet with human resources personnel to confirm details of the H-1B employee's employment and inspection of payroll records.
These site visits underscore USCIS initiatives and stated priorities of focusing on employer immigration violations. Immigration enforcement efforts are focused increasingly on employers and companies must ensure that they maintain policies for compliance with U.S. Immigration laws and regulations.
The following steps should be taken to assure that an H-1B site visit proceeds smoothly:
- One official at the company should be the designated contact person for U.S. Citizenship Services/Immigration and Customs Enforcement;
- H-1B (and all other) foreign nonimmigrant employees should be encouraged to maintain copies of their passport ID pages, Notices of Action and Forms I-94 in their desks in the event of being requested to prove identity by a U.S. government official
- Maintenance of public access files – each H-1B employer should maintain a copy of a public access file, which includes a copy of the certified labor condition attestation, proof of the prevailing wage determination, copies of the employer's compensation system or pay scale used to determine actual wages being paid to the employee. In addition, any materials used to satisfy employee/union notification requirements, a summary of benefits offered to U.S. workers in the same occupational classification as H-1B employees and any other documents for special situations should be maintained. Documentation should be retained for one year beyond the last date on which any H-1B employee was employed.
- Human resource or other personnel should be ready to confirm the employee's date of hire, job title, work location and salary.
If your company is selected for a site visit, with or without advance notification from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, it is important that you immediately contact the partner in charge at Wildes and Weinberg. We will continue to navigate your company through the troubling waters of U.S. immigration law compliance.