PREPARING FOR AN H-1B SITE VISIT

A recent study done by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and USCIS, found that nearly one in five H-1B petitions were affected by either fraud or technical violations, of the H-1B program. This, in addition to collecting the $500 anti-fraud fee for H petitions which funds enforcement activities, led USCIS to greater enforcement of the H-1B rules and regulations on employers. In addition to more restrictive adjudication standards, the USCIS is conducting random Site visits as part of the expansion of its Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program to determine if H-1B employers and employees are complying with the terms of the H-1B and the LCA (Labor Condition Application).
Private contractors were hired as investigators and they are being sent out to conduct site visits to H-1B employers to verify if the H-1B employee is working at the employer site and performing the work as outlined in the H-1B petition. These investigators want to confirm the identity of the employer who petitioned for the visa and the visa beneficiary and to verify that both are in compliance with the terms and conditions of the visa. In other words, they are checking to make sure the company is legitimately doing business as it says in the petition and to see if the person is doing the job that was described in the petition, working the same hours, and earning the salary that was certified on the LCA.
The objective of these unannounced site visits is to detect fraud and abuses of the visa program. According to USCIS, the offenses range from technical violations to outright fraud, with the most common violation being the non-payment of a prevailing wage to the H-1B beneficiary. Critics of this program have said that these minimally trained contractors do not have the sufficient knowledge to conduct such audits.
If your company is subject to a site audit, you will be contacted by an investigator. The officer will identify himself or herself as a USCIS Site Inspector and will present you with official government issued identification. The Inspector will ask to speak to the HR person or the person that signed the I-129. The Inspector will also ask to speak to the foreign national that is the beneficiary of the relevant petition assuming they are working at the same location. If they are at a different location it is likely the Inspector will visit that site as well.
The Inspector will ask both parties questions about the position held by the H-1B worker including the title of the job and the duties, the salary being paid, the hours being worked, and the actual location of the work. The companies should have public access files available as well as payroll records. Contact your attorney in case of a site visit to ensure it is completed smoothly, or if you do not have one, contact us at: http://www.visalaw.com/atlanta.html

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