Site visits to H-1B employers by USCIS’s Fraud Detection & National Security Division have become routine. What are they like?
These visits are unannounced and begin with a USCIS officer showing up at the work location stated on the H-1B (form I-129). The officer will ask for the I-129 signer and/or H-1B employee and explain that he/she is here to see and speak to one or multiple H-1B employees.
At that point, the employer representative will call the H-1B employee, inform him/her that a routine USCIS site visit is being conducted to verify he/she is working here, being paid by the H-1B employer and is performing the duties described in the H-1B petition. Then, ask the employee to go and see the officer.
The officer will want to see the employee’s driver’s license for identification purposes, and request a copy of the employee’s most recent pay-stub. Below are typical questions or requests asked of H-1B employees by the USCIS officer:
· How many years have you worked in this field?
· How many hours do you work?
· Did you pay the costs associated with your H-1B?
· What are your responsibilities at the company?
· The employee will be asked to complete a questionnaire requesting employee’s start date, work location, current position, end client name (if any), rate of pay and duties.
The questions and requests are not considered very invasive, difficult, or detailed.
If the officer asks to see multiple H-1B employees, and it is not possible to accommodate such a request, inform him/her that it would not be possible to see them that day and arrange a time for a return visit.
What if the H-1B employee or the entire company is no longer at the worksite in the I-129?
It is common for employees who do consulting work at client sites to move from the worksite stated in the I-129. In this situation, the employer may file an H-1B amendment to inform USCIS of the change, but doing so isn’t mandatory provided the employer files and posts a new Labor Condition Application (LCA) at the new worksite before the employee moves. Given the cost of an H-1B amendment, most employers obtain and post a new LCA only.
However, because LCAs are filed with the Department of Labor (DOL) only, USCIS would not know about the change and inspection officers would still go to the worksite indicated in the I-129. Previously, not finding a company that moved resulted in drastic measures such as USCIS revoking H-1B approvals.
More recently, USCIS began taking less drastic measures and they will now email the H-1B employer and request:
· Explanation why the employee no longer works at the facility and/or why the I-129 work address was unoccupied,
· Last three pay-stubs and latest Form W-2 of the H-1B beneficiary at issue,
· Beneficiary’s job title and duties,
· Beneficiary’s present work location along with a copy of the LCA for that location if the location has changed, and
· If the beneficiary is working for an end-client, a letter from the end-client attesting to beneficiary’s employment at the site,
This gives employers an opportunity to prove all H-1B conditions are being met.