On October 1, 2015 USCIS announced the launch of the Known Employer Pilot Program. Yesterday, March 3, USCIS confirmed the participation of five employers in the pilot. The purpose of the Known Employer Program is to expedite processing of certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa petitions via a “pre-approval” process of certain employer information.

Known Employer Pilot Overview

Each employer-sponsored visa petition requires that the sponsoring employer evidence certain “bona fides” of the company. Under the new pilot program, employers may submit documents relating to the sponsoring company’s corporate structure, operations and financial health.

Though the program is currently in the pilot phase, with only five (of a planned nine) companies having confirmed participation, USCIS has already published fairly detailed instructions on how the application process will work.

Application Process

Companies will need to submit documentation about the corporate structure of divisions and entities, finances, and operations to the Known Employer Document Library (KEDL). Employers will also need to complete Form I-950, Application for Predetermination under Known Employer Program. USCIS will then review the documents to determine whether the employer has met the requirements for the immigrant or nonimmigrant classification requested.

Eligible Classifications

Only two sub-classifications under the first preference immigrant visa category and four nonimmigrant visa classifications will be covered under the pilot program:

  1. Immigrant Visa: E12 outstanding professor or researcher. The E12 classification, also known as EB-1B, requires a permanent job offer from a sponsoring employer.
  2. Immigrant Visa: E13 or EB-1C multinational executive or manager
  3. Nonimmigrant Visa: H-1B specialty occupation
  4. Nonimmigrant Visa: L-1A, intracompany transferee in a managerial or executive capacity
  5. Nonimmigrant Visa: L-1B, intracompany transferee in a position involving specialized knowledge
  6. Nonimmigrant Visa: TN, Canadian and Mexican citizens engaged in business activities at a professional level under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Program Expansion

USCIS has not released a timeline for the roll-out of the program to any eligible employer. The only news thus far is that post-completion of the pilot, USCIS will release more information. We are cautiously optimistic that this program will be rolled out sometime next year.