U.S. Companies That Sponsor Foreign Workers
Will the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) visit your office?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security tasked with providing immigration benefits to foreign nationals. The immigration law can be difficult and confusing to understand. To be assured that your business is ready in the event FDNS visits your office unannounced, you should consider consulting the Law Offices of KahBo Dye-Chiew, an immigration lawyer.
The USCIS has recently expanded a program of conducting site visits to the business premises of employers who sponsor foreign workers. Since 2004, the USCIS has been collecting $500.00 for each petition filed for Specialty Occupation Workers (H-1B petitions) and International Managers or Executives (L petitions) to fund these investigations. The Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) was created by the USCIS oversee this effort. The investigations conducted by the FDNS are an effort to “detect, deter and combat immigration benefit fraud and to strengthen USCIS’ efforts aimed at ensuring benefits are not granted to persons who threaten national or security or public safety.”
The FDNS site visits are intended to confirm the following:
- That the employer actually exists
- To verify the information contained in the petition
- Whether the foreign workers are being employed in the capacity described in the H-1B and L petition
In addition, the FDNS is also collecting information to add to its fraud detection database to enable it to create profiles of U.S. employers who request immigration benefits on behalf of foreign workers.
FNDS site visits
FDNS site visits are often unannounced. The officers conducting the investigations are typically employees of the USCIS or FDNS or employees of a private investigation firm that have contracted with the USCIS to perform these investigations. The FDNS Agent should immediately be directed to the Employer’s representative who would have the most knowledge of the immigration petitions. The FDNS officer may request to speak with the foreign worker, his/her supervisor, and possibly colleagues of the foreign worker to enable the FDNS Agent to confirm that the foreign worker is engaging in the duties as described in the petition. In addition, the FDNS Officer may wish to look at the premises, workers, take pictures and request for payroll records and organization charts. Site visits are normally completed within an hour but may take longer.
We would recommend cooperating with the FDNS officer to the extent that the information pertains to the petition that was filed. Failure to cooperate in these investigations could result in the denial of a pending petition, revocation of a previously approved petition or compromising future petitions. So long as the information which the employer provided to the USCIS in filing the petition accurately represents the employer and the position which the foreign worker is employed in, these investigations should not be a cause for concern.
Although there is no way to avoid a site visit, the best “defense” that an employer can put up is to ensure that there is at least one person who is fully knowledgeable about the petitions which have been filed by the company and who, before the petition was filed, verified that the information contained in the petitions accurately represent the employer and the duties of the position offered to the foreign worker. This will ensure that when the FDNS Agent shows up at the reception area, the FDNS Agent can be directed to a knowledgeable person who can candidly confirm the information in the petition.
FDNS immigration attorneys
The role of a good immigration attorney while preparing the H-1B or the L petition is to take information which an employer provides to him or her and prepare the documentation in such a manner so that the information necessary for the USCIS to make a favorable decision in the case can easily be identified by the USCIS adjudications officer. During a site visit, an employer may ask the FDNS Agent if they will allow the attorney who prepared the petition to assist them in responding to any questions raised, but an FDNS Officer may be reluctant to reschedule the meeting to allow the attorney to be present. However, if the petition was prepared carefully and accurately represents the employer, there shouldn’t be any reason to be concerned about hosting the FDNS Agent and responding to their questions.
Contact the Law Offices of KahBo Dye-Chiew in Honolulu, HI
If you are an employer and are concerned with a visit from the FDNS, contact the Law Offices of KahBo Dye-Chiew at 866-510-7082 or complete the online web form.