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  • Article: Update: USCIS H1-B and L-1 Site Visits By Shilpa Malik

    Update: USCIS H1-B and L-1 Site Visits

    by


    In an official meeting which took place early October, leaders from USCIS met with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to address concerns and make changes relating to the H-1B and L-1 Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP). These site visits, as experts point out, could pose major setbacks for petitioning employers and employees if they do not meet the inspector’s criteria.

    Background

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services developed the site visit and verification program in 2009 as a way to ensure that employers were reporting the accurate information on their pending visas and to confirm that all requirements were still upheld for approved petitions.

    Since 2009, nearly 75,000 H-1B inspections have been completed to confirm the legitimacy of the employment organizations.

    L-1 Site Visit Expansions Include FDNS

    In recent years, L-1 site visits started being conducted by agents of the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS). Unlike H-1B site visits which could include any employer (whether it be a large corporation, small company or nonprofit organization) L-1 case visits are exclusively for petitions filed on behalf of multinational companies.

    Site Visit Deemed Verified or Not-Verified

    The process for carrying out a site visit is as follows:

    • An FDNS inspector shows up at the location indicated on the petition (form I-129).
    • In rare cases, the inspector may send an email prior to the site visit with information listing which documentation will be required. Again, this doesn’t happen in all cases, so as a precaution you should have the proper paperwork on hand.
    • Once on the premises, the inspector will ask to speak to the individual who signed the I-129 form and possibly the nonimmigrant employees also noted on the form.
    • After a thorough review of the working conditions and  administrative inquiries, the visit is classified as “verified” or “not-verified”.
    • H-1B employer sites are known to receive repeat visits so don’t assume you’re home-free  if you receive a “verified” report.

    How Can I Prepare for an L-1 Employer Site Visit?

    Although site visits are completely random and unannounced (meaning you won’t receive a warning beforehand), there are certain steps you can take to be prepared. Some suggestions include:

    • Establishing a central contact person for any FDNS site inspections. This person should ideally be the individual whose name appears on the I-129 form.
    • Inform employees about the possibility of a site visit and their role in the inspection so they aren’t completely caught off guard when the FDNS representative arrives.

    Summary

    H-1B and L-1 site visits are in place for the deter fraud and foster compliance across the board. The best advice is to take the necessary steps prior to a site visit and be as honest as possible with FDNS and USCIS officials. If at any point the petitioning employer or nonimmigrant employee has questions regarding administrative site visits, consult with an immigration lawyer.


    About The Author

    Shilpa Malik, Esq. is an experienced immigration lawyer specializing in employment based immigration, L-1 & H-1B work visa, family and marriage based immigration. She is the Founder and Managing Attorney of SGM Law Group, PLLC, an immigration firm committed to providing professional service and legal expertise similar to large firms while ensuring personal attention, compassion and accessibility of a small law practice. Prior to founding her own law firm, Shilpa worked as a Senior Attorney at prominent New York City based law firms where she practiced Immigration Law exclusively. She is admitted to the New York State Bar and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and American Bar Association (ABA).


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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