If you employ temporary H-1B employees, then you need to be prepared to face random site visits from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This can be a daunting exercise, but due diligence and an established protocol for dealing with site visits and audits can set you and your employees up for success.
It is important to remember that USCIS has a legitimate policy that allows them to conduct these random visits to verify the employment of your foreign national employees.
Known as the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program, this policy was instituted in 2009 to better allow for USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security to police and detect immigration fraud and verify the information detailed in certain visa petitions, including H-1B, L-1, and Religious Worker petitions.
While it is technically not mandatory, it is in your best interests to allow the Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) officer access to your workplace and the H-1B employee.
Site visits will be unannounced and conducted on a random basis based on individual H-1B employees. Thus, the more H-1B employees you employ, the more likely you are to be visited by inspectors.
You should always request verification of the inspector’s credentials, but once verified, you need to comply with their requests.
Throughout the visit, the inspector will seek to verify information from the H-1B petition, and also that the foreign national employee is still currently employed by your company. They will want to speak with the sponsor of the H-1B petition, and if he or she is not available, someone of equal authority within the company.
They may want to tour your operation to ensure that the business is legitimate and engaged in appropriate activities. They will ask questions about the H-1B employee’s position within your company, his or her duties, and their terms of employment. It is essential that you and the H-1B employee each fully understand these details from the H-1B petition.
The inspector will also want to speak with the actual H-1B employee to ask similar questions about their employment. Once again, the inspector is seeking to verify compliance with all details from the original petition.
If the inspector has any reason to suspect noncompliance or fraud, he or she may refer the case to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which could result in major repercussions for your company and possible deportation for the H-1B employee.
However, these visits should not be feared—you merely need to be prepared and work diligently to always comply with the terms of the H-1B visa. Keep excellent records of all documentation and applications, and be sure to update the visa as needed, such as if your company changes addresses. Also, while you are not required to keep tabs on an H-1B employee after they are terminated, you do need to keep detailed documentation regarding the actual termination of the employee.
A knowledgeable immigration attorney like those at FordMurray law can help you ensure legal compliance from start to finish when it comes to employing H-1B employees. We will make sure you are prepared to handle any site visits from USCIS. Contact us today.