By Kaitlyn Garcia, J.D. | Immigration Attorney | Houston, Texas
USCIS started the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program in 2009 as an additional way to verify information in certain visa petitions. The types of petitions most subject to random site visits are H-1B and L-1 petitions. Usually a site visit is conducted by a Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) officer to check in and verify the facts stated in filed petitions after visa approval to ensure visa compliance. Employers with H-1B and L-1 approvals should note that a site visit can be conducted at anytime and any day at their worksite(s). Officers select petitions to review and check at random.
Employers subject to site visits may be given advance warning of a site visit from an official, but most commonly the official will appear at a worksite unannounced. For this reason employers must take visa compliance seriously as an increase in visa enforcement has been experienced in the recent administration.
How employers should prepare for a possible worksite visit:
Before a site visit: Employers should be prepared to present any information originally submitted with the petition. The site inspector may also request additional information relevant to the petition.
During the site visit: Employers should immediately provide any readily available documents and information that the site inspector requests.
After the site visit: Employers should provide all additional information requested in any follow-up communication from USCIS.
What happens after a worksite visit?
After a site visit, if an officer determines a possibility of non-compliance or even visa fraud, the officer may issue a notice of an intent to revoke the visa approval (NOIR). Before a NOIR is issued, however, the immigration official will likely attempt to contact employers with an additional questionnaire via email. Typically, this questionnaire will be an email subjected as a "USCIS inquiry on a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129)."
What to do if a questionnaire arrives in your email inbox from immigration:
Immigration questionnaires from a USCIS field office should be taken seriously. An employer is typically given a week, or sometimes less to fully complete the questionnaire.
Which employers are highly inclined to receive a questionnaire?
H-1B employers, especially those who station their employees offsite in third party placements, are highly subject to detailed questionnaires from immigration officials. Many times, a site visit is conducted at a worksite where a project has been terminated and the employee is not found working at the worksite, raising additional inquiry from immigration to verify the petition in question. Many times, the H-1B employee has simply moved onto another project, where an amendment was required to be filed to comply with H-1B visa requirements.
Typical questions of a common worksite verification questionnaire:
1. Contact information for the beneficiary (e-mail, residential address and work phone number);
2. If the beneficiary is no longer employed with your organization, please identify the last date he/she was employed;
3. The start date of the beneficiary’s employment with your organization;
4. Please identify the beneficiary’s current work location (client name, end client name, street address, floor number/suite number, city, state) and the date he/she started working at that location. Please also provide the name, title, and contact information of an employee at the location where the beneficiary works that would have knowledge of his/her placement and the work he/she performs;
5. Please provide the beneficiary’s job title, typical work schedule, and a description of the beneficiary’s current duties;
6. Please provide a copy of the beneficiary’s three most recent pay statements.
What will be required from the employer is simple explanation of the circumstances and the facts surrounding the employment in question to verify the employment with immigration officials. Because worksite visits are conducted at random and can occur anytime, employers should take note that visa amendments are important and are required to be filed when required to avoid any issues that may arise such as future denials of extension of status.
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