Practitioners have been reporting an uptick in the number of H-1B and L-1 site visits. As you may know, the USCIS began its Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP) in 2009, under which site visits are conducted by the Fraud Detection and National Security directorate (FDNS) of USCIS. FDNS focuses on site visits for religious worker petitions, H-1B petitions, and since 2014, L-1 petitions. The purpose of the site visits is to verify that the foreign national worker is employed in accordance with the terms of the petition that was filed for him/her.
Employers may note the following while handling site visits:
- The site visit may be carried out at the beneficiary’s actual work location, even if the work location is at a third party worksite. It is important that H-1B/L-1 employers have policies and procedures in place in case of an FDNS inspection. Human resource departments, staff, and company signatories should be aware of the potential for unannounced site visits and should be prepared to follow the employer’s response plan.
- Employers and beneficiaries should be 100% confident that everything included in the H-1B or L-1 petition pertaining to them is accurate.
- When an inspector shows up to carry out a site visit, employers should ask for and record the credentials of the inspector. The employer should record the name, title, and contact information of the inspector to ensure that any post-visit communications are directed toward the appropriate agent.
- The person who signs the petitions (and/or their assistant) should know where to find copies of the petitions quickly and to the extent possible, should review those petitions before meeting with the inspector.
- Employers should be aware that material changes to job duties, and in the case of H-1Bs, changes to work location, require amended petitions.
- Any discrepancies between pay stubs and the salary listed on the I-129 petition, will warrant a complete explanation.
- Employers should contact their immigration attorneys immediately if a site visit occurs.
- Employers should write a detailed description of what transpired immediately after the visit.
- If during the site visit, the employer or beneficiary is unsure of an answer to a question, they should ask for additional time and offer to follow-up with the officer, rather than guessing.