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How to Prepare for a USCIS Site Visit

Sep 11, 2023

USCIS officer

If you’re a company that employs highly skilled foreign workers, you may be visited unannounced by U.S. immigration authorities. The goal of these visits is to ensure you’re complying with U.S. immigration rules and regulations. In this article, we’ll go over what employers can expect during a worksite visit and how to prepare for one.

Understanding the Purpose of Worksite Visits

Worksite visits, carried out by immigration officers in the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS), are part of the government’s efforts to ensure that employers are complying with immigration laws and that the foreign worker’s employment conditions match the details provided in the visa petition. These visits typically occur after the visa application process has been completed and the foreign worker is already working in the United States.

Keep in mind that participating in the compliance review process is voluntary, but “strongly encouraged.” If the employer or employee refuses to participate, the FDNS “will complete the compliance review by using all available information and will document the circumstances of around ending the site visit,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

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What Visa Types Are Subject to Worksite Visits?

The FDNS currently conducts site visits for the following visa types:

  • H-1B nonimmigrant work visa
  • L-1 nonimmigrant visa for employees transferring to their company’s U.S. office
  • EB-5 investor visa
  • Special immigrant religious workers

Key Steps to Prepare for a Worksite Visit

  1. Designate a Company Representative
    The officer will want to speak with the individual who signed the visa application (the petitioner). If the petitioner is unavailable, have an alternative authorized representative ready to interact with the officer.
  2. Inform HR and Legal Counsel
    Employers should communicate the possibility of worksite visits with their HR or relevant personnel. If you wish to have an attorney present, inform the inspector and request additional time if necessary.
  3. Confirm Officer’s Identity
    When an FDNS officer arrives, you have the right to request proper identification and USCIS credentials. Always verify the identity of anyone claiming to represent the government.
  4. Site Inspection
    The inspector will first make sure that the company building matches the address on the petition. They may also inquire with neighboring businesses or residents to verify your company’s location and existence.
  5. Facility Tour
    With your permission, the officer may tour your office to assess the legitimacy of your business activities.
  6. Employee-Related Questions
    The officer will inquire about the foreign worker, including the details of the position, responsibilities, and employment terms. They may also verify the worker’s current employment status and may request proof if needed.
  7. Public Access Files
    If you employ H1-B workers, the officer may request to review public access files, which contain information about the H-1B employee and must be made available to the public.
  8. Employee Interview
    The officer will interview the foreign worker to make sure their position aligns with the terms and conditions laid out in their visa application. They should be prepared to discuss their position, job duties, and educational background.

What Happens Next?

Since FDNS immigration officers are not responsible for making decisions on immigration petitions, their role does not involve granting or denying immigration benefits. Instead, USCIS reviews the “Compliance Review Report” prepared by these officers to identify any signs of fraud or noncompliance. If significant concerns are identified, FDNS may refer the case to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for potential criminal investigation.

The Bottom Line

Worksite visits may seem daunting, but with proper preparation and adherence to immigration regulations, employers can navigate them successfully. Having a well-defined policy and protocol for such inspections can help streamline the process. Remember, inspections are often random and don’t point to any wrongdoing on your part. If you have concerns or questions, it’s a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable immigration attorney who can provide guidance and support for these visits.

Boundless helps you build a tailored visa plan for every step of the process, from forms to your immigration interview.