The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fraud Detection and National Security division has announced it is expanding unannounced workplace site inspections to include employers of L-1 intra-company transfers. Previously reserved only for companies that employed H-1B workers, this expansion of the program to include the L-1 category means that any company that employs workers in either H-1B or L-1 status may now be subject to an unannounced workplace site visit.
Worksite visits are designed to detect fraud in the immigration system. Since their introduction in 2009, tens of thousands of unannounced site inspections have been completed at companies that employ H-1B workers.
What employers should do now:
- Keep ALL employees informed about changes to the regulations and the potential for a site visit. Reassure employees in L-1 status that a site visit does not indicate a problem with their status or that fraud has been detected. All employees should be made aware of the possibility of a site visit and know the proper procedures to follow if they are contacted to verify information relative to a petitioner within the company.
- Keep Berardi Immigration Law informed of any changes regarding employment information of foreign nationals within your company. Changes such as work location, job duties or relocation of job sites may require amendments to existing L-1 or H-1B petitions. Contact our office and notify us of any changes to discuss any necessary action.
What employers should do to prepare for a visit:
- Involve relevant administrators and create a policy and/or procedure for site visits. If a policy is already in place, be sure it is up to date and communicated to relevant personnel.
- Employers should notify personnel responsible for answering phones or greeting visitors of the appropriate procedure to follow in the event of a site inspection. It is important to have a point of contact, as well as an alternate, for all site visits.
- Keep all documentation, including W-2s, pay stubs and identification, of each foreign national organized and easily accessible.
- Maintain your H-1B Public Access Files in compliance with all Department of Labor regulations.
What employers should do if chosen for a visit:
- Contact your legal counsel immediately.
- Request identification to verify the site inspector’s credentials.
- Ensure that the correct individual is in contact with the inspector and that the individual(s) comply with all requests. The inspector may request documents, a tour of the facilities or to speak with company representatives.
- Never “guess” at answers to questions posed by an inspector. If the answer of the question is unknown, advise that you will provide the information as soon as possible.
- If personnel are interviewed, ask that the designated company contact or witness be present to verify the content of the interview.
What employers should do after a visit:
- Note that there is not a “formal outcome” to a site visit and there is not any indication of pass/fail.
- If fraud is detected, employers will most likely see a follow-up in the form of a request for more information, petition denials or revocation of previous approvals.
- Any follow-up documentation needs to be shared with legal counsel immediately.
While unannounced workplace site inspections are often stressful and unpleasant, an employer who is in compliance with regulation and practice has nothing to fear from such a visit. If you wish to discuss whether or not your organization is at risk, contact one of our immigration employment lawyers by calling 1-877-721-6100 to schedule a consultation.