USCIS announces new measures to detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse

News Release from Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC - April 3, 2017

On April 3, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new measures to detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse. In addition to its usual random and unannounced site visits, USCIS says that it will now make targeted site visits to:

  • Employers whose basic business information cannot be validated through commercially available data.
  • H-1B-dependent employers -- i.e. those with a high ratio of H-1B workers to U.S. workers, as defined by statute.
  • Employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another company or organization’s location.

USCIS also announced that it had established an email address that will allow individuals to submit "tips, alleged violations and other relevant information about potential H-1B fraud and abuse."

In a prior post we drew attention to site visits by USCIS' Fraud Detection and National Security directorate (FDNS). Employers agree to such visits when signing Form I-129, “Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker,” which states that “supporting evidence submitted may be verified by USCIS through any means determined appropriate… including but not limited to, on-site compliance reviews.”

These site visits are conducted without notice and are typically complete in less than an hour. They consist of one or more of three stages: a meeting with a staff member of the employer, a look at the premises, and a meeting with the employee beneficiary of the visa petition. The purpose of the visit is to verify the employer’s existence, the validity of the information in the visa petition, and whether the foreign national is complying with the terms of the visa petition. The inspector may ask for documentation to compare with the information in the visa petition, and may wish to address any inconsistencies discovered.

In the event of a site visit by USCIS, employers should contact their immigration attorney immediately. Though most visits are unannounced and FDNS will not reschedule a visit to accommodate counsel, counsel is allowed to be present during a site visit, and might be permitted to participate via telephone. If counsel cannot attend the site visit, the employer should write a detailed description of what happened, to be shared with counsel afterwards.

See our prior post on this subject for more information, including a list of helpful practice pointers to prepare for a site visit compiled by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

© Jewell Stewart & Pratt PC 2017