November 20, 2009
On November 19, 2009, USCIS' Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) office explained the three types of site visits that are currently being conducted:
Administrative site visits. These relate to H-1B and religious worker petitions. They generally are conducted by contractors who know nothing of immigration law. For H-1B site visits, the contractors have been equipped with a set of specific questions, and all employers/beneficiaries should be asked the same questions, primarily reaching the issues of whether there's really an employer there, whether the employer knows it filed the petition, and whether the beneficiary is doing the work and receiving the wage indicated on the petition. H-1B visits are done on a post-adjudication basis, and are randomly selected. Each employer should receive only one such visit, but may receive different visits for different sites.
Risk Assessment Program fraud study. Applicable to any type of benefit program, including family and employment-based, this study is part of a joint program between USCIS and ICE. Applications and petitions are chosen at random, usually on a post-approval basis, for visits to help in designing profiles of potential fraud.
Targeted site visits. These visits take place where fraud is suspected, and consist of a visit to ask questions. Advance notice, including notice to counsel, is supposed to be provided.
On November 19, 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton announced ICE had issued Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 1,000 employers across the country associated with critical infrastructure, alerting business owners that ICE will audit their hiring records to determine compliance with employment eligibility verification laws.
"ICE is focused on finding and penalizing employers who believe they can unfairly get ahead by cultivating illegal workplaces," said Assistant Secretary Morton. "We are increasing criminal and civil enforcement … to even the playing field for employers who play by the rules."
The 1,000 businesses served with audit notices this week were selected for inspection as a result of investigative leads and intelligence and because of the business' connection to public safety and national security. The names and locations of the businesses will not be released at this time due to the ongoing, law enforcement sensitive nature of these audits.
Audits involve a comprehensive review of Form I-9s, which employers are required to complete and retain for each individual hired in the U.S.
Statistics since implementation of new ICE worksite enforcement strategy on April 30:
45 businesses and 47 individuals debarred;
0 businesses and 1 individual were debarred during same period in FY 2008.
142 Notices of Intent to Fine (NIF) totaling $15,865,181;
ICE issued 32 NIFs totaling $2,355,330 in all of FY 2008.
45 Final Orders totaling $798,179;
ICE issued eight Final Orders totaling $196,523 during the same period in FY 2008.
1,897 cases initiated;
ICE initiated 605 cases during the same period in FY 2008.
1,069 Form I-9 Inspections;
ICE initiated 503 Form I-9 Inspections in all of FY 2008.
In July, ICE issued 654 NOIs to businesses nationwide in the largest operation of its kind before today - part of ICE's effort to audit businesses suspected of using illegal labor. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.