Employers should be prepared for more unannounced visits from USCIS FDNS Unit
The USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Unit (FDNS) has been conducting worksite inspections for several years now, mainly focusing on H-1B and L-1A employers. In a 2017 draft executive order, however, the Trump Administration detailed their plans to expand worksite inspections to include the L-1B Specialized Knowledge category, and eventually expand worksite inspections to all employment-based immigration categories.
By completing the required paperwork and sponsoring a foreign worker, the employer stipulates to the truth of the information provided to USCIS by virtue of filing a qualifying petition. The USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Unit (FDNS) is authorized to conduct unannounced inspections of employer worksites to:
1) verify the existence of the employer;
2) confirm the veracity of the information provided by the employer in the submitted immigration petitions; and
3) ensure that the foreign workers are complying with the terms of their admission to the United States.
The key to a successful worksite inspection is preparation. Employers should designate a main point of contact for every worksite employing a foreign national. The receptionist, security team or any front employee should be aware of this point person and should be given instructions on how to greet and direct FDNS officers. Additionally, the foreign national and their manager should be informed of the possibility of a site inspection and what to expect.
What to Expect During a Site Inspection
An FDNS officer may visit the work location listed in the immigration petition unannounced. The site visits take an average of one hour but can vary greatly. The officer may ask to tour and/or photograph the premises, interview the foreign national or foreign national’s manager, and request documentation such as W-2s, payroll records or paystubs for the foreign national, or a company organizational chart.
After the officer arrives and the designated point person is contacted, the point person should ask for the officer’s identification and business card. The employer may request to have an attorney present during the visit. The officer usually will not reschedule the visit but may allow counsel to be present via phone during the site visit. During the site visit, the point person should accompany the officer and take detailed notes including, but not limited to: the officer’s name and title, the names of the people interviewed by the officer, questions asked during the interview, documents provided to the officer, areas of the worksite visited by the officer, and any photos taken by the officer. If an employee does not know the answer to a question asked by the officer or needs time to obtain the information, they should let the officer know.
After the site visit, the officer may contact the employer to request additional information. If the officer believes there are discrepancies between the information provided in the petition and the worksite, USCIS may notify the employer of its intent to revoke the petition and provide the employer with the opportunity to explain any alleged discrepancies.
Please feel free to contact our Boston-based immigration law firm if you wish to learn more about this process or you if you have questions regarding the USCIS site inspections.