As reported in previous Immigration Insights, the U.S. government is conducting more frequent visits to locations where H-1B workers are employed in an effort to find instances of immigration fraud.
The government's instructions to its contractors who conduct site visits are now available. A few points from the instructions are worth stressing:
- First, if the H-1B employer requests the presence of an attorney (in person or by phone) and the attorney is not immediately available, the site visit must be terminated. We recommend that employers always contact their immigration lawyer as soon as a site inspector arrives, and consider postponing the interview if counsel is not immediately available.
- Second, a major focus of the instructions is to investigate whether the physical location of the organization is legitimate and not just a "store front" or "shell."
- Third, site inspectors seek to match up the title, duties, location and salary listed by the employer in its H-1B petition with the answers elicited during the site visit. Site inspectors may ask for business cards, pay records, job descriptions, and so on.
There is a clear focus on whether discrepancies exist. A site inspector may incorrectly come to the wrong conclusion if the employer and employee are not familiar with the title and duties described in the H-1B petition, especially if the petition was filed a long time ago. Always take a moment to review the H-1B petition before agreeing to a site visit. Always notify your immigration counsel if an employee has changed his or her job, so that you can receive advice regarding whether your organization should file an amended H-1B petition with USCIS.