Site visits are only the beginning: The alarming lengths USCIS is going through to verify employer information as it pertains to H-1B visas.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about USCIS performing site visits on an employer’s place of business. USCIS has always had the ability to perform these site visits at their discretion to verify claims made in the I-129 petition, but lately there has been an upward trend in the number of site visits. Now, in a potentially alarming trend, USCIS is going even further to verify an employer’s information: They are demanding employees show up at a USCIS office, often with only one to two days notice, and then the officer proceeds to grill the employee for a harrowing 1-2 hours to ascertain any information about the employer’s workplace.

So what types of information will the officer ask the employee? Almost anything; from where is the office located, to who co-workers are, to where does the employee live while employed in the position. From there, questions can delve into whether the employer has enough specialty occupation work available for all employees, to what is the specific project the employee is working on, to how many employees work in the office at any given time. USCIS is trying to trace who is more responsible for the work the employee is doing. For example, they may ask who brought the end client in to the employer. USCIS wants to establish the employer/employee relationship, and show that the employer is the one who is in control of the relationship. Furthermore, USCIS now has a technical specialist on staff, and this person acts as an additional interviewer by asking the employee software and/or hardware questions about the project. This additional interviewer is a new concept, and shows the great length USCIS will go to ensure all information contained in the petition, and by extension, a Beneficiary’s resume, is accurate.

Employers are reminded that they must remain vigilant, and provide all information on the I-129 petition and LCA accurately at the time of filing, as they are attesting that the information contained is correct.  Falsifying information can lead to civil or criminal action, and in the case of at least 15 companies, a debarment from applying for H-1B visas for a time period of 1-2 years. In addition, employees with criminal records need to be especially wary, as USCIS may arrest the employee at the time of the interview. It is important to note that while employers should remain cautious, there is no need to panic. Employers should have a complete, accurate file of all petitions and the backup documentation to support their petitions at all times.

Should USCIS request a site visit or seek to interview your employees, call The Law Offices of Madhurima B. Paturi to get guidance and counsel on how to approach this unique situation.

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