The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has been sending investigators from its Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) to conduct site visits at the offices of H-1B petitioners, has expanded its investigations to include petitions for L-1 non-immigrant visas. The L-1 visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.

While the H-1B site visits typically involve a review of the premises, an interview with the employee and the manager, and some documentation review, recent reported L-1 verifications involve only an e-mail from the FDNS to the employer’s contact listed on the petition, asking extensive questions about the petitioning organization and the beneficiary. Some of these questions were not likely to have been addressed in the initial petition. For reasons that are presently unclear, attorneys who filed the case and entered Form G-28 Attorney Representation are not being notified by FDNS of these e-mails.

The FDNS e-mails seek to confirm the authority of the person signing the petition and ask a series of questions about the overseas company, such as the name of the foreign company, how many locations exist overseas, the number of overseas employees, the location of headquarters, and organizational charts of the foreign company as it relates to the U.S. company. Extensive questions are asked about the U.S. company, including the locations and numbers of employees in non-immigrant status and employees sponsored for permanent residency. Another series of questions asks about the beneficiary’s qualifications and the duties abroad and in the U.S.

L-1 petitioners already provide extensive documentation to USCIS to receive an approval. The FDNS e-mail probes further into a petition that has already been approved and asks questions that may not have been addressed in the petition. FDNS is not an adjudicatory body, so it is unclear what purpose the additional information serves beyond the stated purpose of verifying the authenticity of the petition. The verification questions are sure to complicate an already complicated L-1 process. Employers that receive an FDNS e-mail should consult with appropriate counsel.