In an announcement issued April 4, 2017, US Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) stated that it will begin a "more
targeted" campaign of site visits to the worksites where H-1B
beneficiaries are employed. This campaign is aimed at ensuring
American workers are not discriminated against by the H-1B program.
Under the new initiative, H-1B site visits will focus on three
categories of employers:
H-1B dependent employers (generally,
employers with 51 or more employees with at least 15% of their
workforce composed of H-1B beneficiaries);
Employers filing petitions for
employees who will be assigned to work at the worksites of
different companies; and
Employers whose business information
cannot be verified through commercially available data (including,
primarily, the Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises
(VIBE) tool, which is based on a Dun & Bradstreet
Targeted site visits are intended to identify employers engaging
in fraud and abuse of the H-1B program; the goal is not to punish
individual H-1B employees. USCIS has established an email address:
reportH1Babuse@uscis.dhs.gov to allow American and H-1B workers,
presumably anonymously, to submit tips, alleged violations, and
other relevant information about potential fraud and abuse.
Individuals are also able to report alleged violations to the
Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division by
submitting Form WH-4.
USCIS Site Visits – What to Expect
Site visits are conducted by officers of the Fraud Detection and
National Security (FDNS) unit of USCIS. In most cases, the FDNS
officer arrives unannounced and will typically spend anywhere from
15 to 90 minutes at the employer's site. The officer will
likely ask to speak to a human resources manager. Infrequently, the
H-1B beneficiary of the petition in question and his or her direct
supervisor or manager may also be contacted.
The purpose of the site visit is to verify information in a
specific immigration petition including information about the
employer as well as the H-1B beneficiary in question. The officer
will generally have a copy of the petition. The officer may also
ask to view and/or photograph the employer's premises and the
H-1B beneficiary's work area. The officer may also request
additional documents such as payroll records or pay stubs for the
USCIS indicates it will continue random site visits nationwide.
All employers of H-1B beneficiaries are therefore encouraged to
adequately prepare for site visits.
Preparing for Site Visits – What to Do When USCIS Comes
An unexpected site visit by a USCIS officer may be an unnerving
experience, but it should not generally cause concern for employers
who have complied and documented their compliance by adhering to
the DOL and USCIS requirements. To prepare for a site visit,
Retain copies of all I-129 petitions
and their supporting documentation;
Ensure information contained in the
H-1B petitions is at all times accurate and up to date;
Designate a "go-to" person,
who is trained to respond to FDNS inquiries, for site visits;
Develop thorough site visit protocols
that govern in detail how such visits will be handled;
If USCIS shows up unexpectedly, ask
to have counsel present by phone so that your attorney can assist
with any questions.
The Future of H-1B Workers
On March 31, 2017, USCIS issued a memorandum that may impact
employers from hiring H-1B workers. The memorandum focuses on
foreign workers employed as Computer Programmers, especially those
in entry-level positions, and indicates that these workers may not
qualify for a "specialty" H-1B visa because USCIS does
not deem these positions to require a Bachelor's degree in a
specific field. USCIS further indicates in its memorandum that this
is not a change or departure in policy; however, from a practical
standpoint, it appears that obtaining H-1B visas for entry-level
IT-related foreign workers will be met with increasing
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United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
announced today that the annual H-1B quota for both the regular
65,000 visa petition bachelor's degree cap and the 20,000 visa
petition U.S. master's degree cap has been met for Fiscal Year
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 17, 2017, that it had completed its annual H-1B lottery and had selected a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 65,000 petition bachelor's degree cap and the 20,000 petition U.S. master's degree cap.
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