At a time of increasingly aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, the California Service Center of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has notified certain stakeholders that the USCIS will be ramping up “administrative site visits” in connection with H-1B petitions filed by U.S. employers. This is an effort at enhanced enforcement in response to the H-1B Benefit Fraud Analysis report released in September 2008. While thus far, this is the agenda of the California Service Center, we can expect to see similar moves from other service centers. Employers should take the opportunity to prepare for what to expect of a site visit.
The USCIS advised that petitioners should be prepared for administrative site inspectors to ask questions that pertain to any aspect related to the terms and conditions of employment, including job duties, salary, work location, and work hours. Further, inspectors regularly would ask whether the employee has paid any fees in association with the filing of the H-1B petition. There are specific requirements regarding who may legally pay H-1B fees.
Site inspections typically occur at the work location listed on the Form I-129 petition. If an employee will be working anywhere else, the employer should include an itinerary for all worksites and ensure the Labor Condition Application corresponds to all locations as necessary.
Inspectors typically will request to speak to a company representative (i.e., the signatory of the petition or the listed contact person) and the beneficiary employee. The inspector also may ask to review documentation related to the petition, as well as to visit the employee’s desk or workspace.
Site inspections are made on a random basis and may occur more than once. Employers should prepare in advance by having on hand relevant information, such as where the employee works, where the petition documents are located and, of course, how to get in touch with counsel, if necessary.