H-1B Worksite Visits: Don't Be Afraid...Be Prepared
H-1B Worksite Visits:
Whether you’re an employer or employee a worksite visit from an immigration officer can be unnerving. The stress can be greatly reduced, however, through proper preparation and education of employees. Worksite visits are now common place and should not be a surprise in 2012. In fact, the USCIS approval notices themselves warn of the potential for site visits in stating “Although this application/petition has been approved, USCIS and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reserve the right to verify the information submitted in this petition and/or supporting documents to ensure conformity with applicable laws, rules, regulations and other authorities." Methods used for verifying include public records, contact by correspondence, internet, telephone, email and site visits.
Therefore, if you are on H-1B or employ H-1B employees, be prepared for USCIS to pay you a visit or conduct a random electronic verification of the H-1B employment. The verification will verify that the petitioning company actually exists and will compare the beneficiary’s actual employment details to those provided in the original petition. Any discrepancies will be could lead to revocation, rescission, and/or removal proceedings as appropriate. Applicants, petitioners, and representatives of record will be provided an opportunity to address derogatory information before any formal proceeding is initiated. This usually occurs via direct contact to the company representative or attorney of record by USCIS’s Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP) officers. Preparation is important to proactively addressing issues which may arise during the worksite visit.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE A WORKSITE VISIT:
Employers should ensure their employees are working at the worksite provided in the I-129 and LCA. The employees should be provided with a copy of the Form I-129 and LCA and that they understand the following:
· Job Title;
· Job Description;
· Salary Details;
· Work Location listed on the Form I-129 and LCA;
· Date of joining the petitioning company; and
· Who paid the cost of the petition or did the company reimburse the cost of the H-1B filing fees.
Employees may be asked to provide the officer with proof including the following:
· Employee ID Card;
· Last Three Pay slips;
· W-2 statements; and
· Most Up to Date LCA (if the work location has changed since petition filing); and
· The officer will take photos of the worksite and the employees work station;
It is important to note that any material changes in the employment of an H-1B require the filing of an amended petition. Therefore, employers must be proactive in filing amendments and new LCAs when employment locations and circumstances change.
RANDOM ELECTRONIC VERIFICATION SAMPLE EMAIL.
This is an inquiry for random verification of I-129 petitions filed with USCIS on a program under Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP). USCIS records indicate that the beneficiary is employed as a \____ as listed on the petition._
- Please provide status of the beneficiary’s current employment activities (Work contracts and validation from end client with proper contacts and valid work orders if applicable).
- Please provide a copy of the beneficiary’s employment record, i.e., last three pay stubs & 2010 W-2 within two business days to complete this inquiry.
- Include in your response the beneficiary’s job title, duties, and present work location along with a copy of the LCA for that location if the work location has changed.
Please respond/notify CSC ASVVP Follow up if any additional assistance is required.
IDENTIFICATION OF ISSUES
As the ASVVP inquiry demonstrates, whether conducted in person or electronically, the worksite visit will reveal issues relating to the non-compliance of the H-1B candidate or the H-1B employment. These issues include but are not limited to worksite changes, H-1B filing fee payment by the beneficiary instead of the company, payment below the petition wage, posting of employees on a non-approved worksite, benching, and non-specialty occupation work, among others. As such, proactively managing and auditing changes in H-1B employment is an important function of managing an employer’s immigration programs. Further, educating the employee as to the details in the H-1B petition will help to reduce their stress on the worksite and ensure they focus on your company’s core mission.