USCIS Onsite Visits and I-9 Audits
USCIS Site Inspections to H-1B and L1 Employers
USCIS, utilizing the $500 "fraud fee" it has been collecting for each initial H-1B and L-1 petition, has engaged outside contractors to conduct thousands of site visits to H-1B and L-1 petitioners. Such site visits occur after approval of the petition and they are normally conducted without advance notice, although some investigators will call first to ensure s/he would not have any issues getting on the premises.
The investigators will look to verify two things: (1) that the company is a real operating business entity, and (2) that the person being sponsored is a "legitimate" employee doing the work that was indicated in the H-1B petition. They also are looking for two types of fraud: (1) whether the foreign worker is working for the company and/or (2) the company is falsifying an application.
If your company is selected for such a visit, we suggest the following:
- Contact your ILG attorney immediately. Based on preliminary feedback, investigators are happy to work through counsel to set up the appointment for the inspection and/or obtain the necessary information.
- Make other HR members aware of the possibility for such a visit and designate the person who will interact with the investigator. Other employees including receptionists should refer all questions from any government officials to the company's designated representative.
- H-1B and L-1 files should be organized and readily accessible. If H-1B and L-1 files are not routinely kept at the particular work site visited, the investigator may ask for a follow-up meeting to review the petition documents.
Additionally, U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement (ICE) has announced it will intensify a crackdown on employers of illegal workers as part of the Obama administration’s new immigration strategy.
If ICE selects a company for audit, immigration agents will review I-9 forms and other company records to ensure the company is complying with immigration laws. If violations are found, criminal investigations will follow.
If your company is selected for such an audit, please contact your ILG attorney immediately. We can provide assistance throughout the investigation and help create appropriate responses to the audit. If your company wants assistance in strengthening your immigration compliance programs, ILG also offers I-9 audit services, I-9 training and record keeping practices.