The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) works to deter and detect fraud in all immigration programs. The H-1B visa program helps U.S. companies recruit highly skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country. Since 2009, USCIS has been increasing targeted inspections and anti-fraud site visits in regards to the H-1B visa, to ensure that employers and foreign workers are complying with the requirements of the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. These compliance review site visits are conducted to review foreign national employees specifically to ensure that the employer is complying with claims made in the I-129 petition, and specifically that they are authorized to work in their current positions.
However, after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General, has stated that the anti-fraud and abuse program managed by USCIS “Provides minimal assurance that H-1B visa participants are complaint and not engaged in fraudulent activity”; As a result, USCIS has gone even further to verify employer information.
USCIS has the ability to perform site visits at their discretion. The site visits can be in person, or via telephone and email correspondence. Physical, in person site visits made by USCIS may be conducted with or without advance notification by telephone to arrange a time. They can also demand employees show up at a USCIS office, with as little as one or two days notice.
As the H-1B program continues to come under scrutiny, employers should be prepared for more USCIS site visits in order to fully demonstrate compliance, avoid penalties and fraudulent behavior.