USCIS Expands Worksite Inspections to the L-1 Program

The L-1 category applies to aliens who work for a foreign company that has a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate office in the U.S. These workers can enter the U.S. as intracompany transferees who are coming temporarily to perform services in either 1) a managerial or executive capacity (L-1A) or 2) a specialized knowledge (L-1B) capacity as long as they were employed abroad for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch office for one (1) consecutive year out of the past three (3) years.  Unlike the H-1B visa category for professional workers, there is currently no annual cap on L-1 visas.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it plans to conduct worksite inspection visits of L-1 employers as part of its Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Division’s Site Inspection Program.  Many employers who hire H-1B workers are already aware of, or have experienced, USCIS worksite inspections for their H-1B employees.  The USCIS created this policy to prevent fraud in the H-1B program, and they use the same reasoning to expand the worksite inspection policy to the L-1 visa program.

Every USCIS worksite inspection is unique.  From our experience, however, there are a few things that are common to most inspection.  Here’s what employers should know if a USCIS worksite inspection happens to them:

▪    The site visit will be conducted by a USCIS officer or a private investigation firm.

▪    Most site visits occur with no prior notification and they may take place any time during the workday. If you are notified of a site visit in advance, you should promptly contact legal counsel.

▪    The inspector may ask to speak to the foreign national employee in order to ask questions about his or her employment, including job title, salary, work location, and hours.

▪    Employers should make sure that all receptionists are aware of procedures regarding USCIS site visits.

▪    The employer may be asked to provide a copy of the foreign national’s driver’s license, business card, paystubs, and Form W-2.

▪    The company’s immigration managers should make sure to obtain the inspector’s identification and business card.

After the site visit, if the USICS officer is satisfied that there is no evidence of immigration fraud, no further action is likely to be taken on the case.  If, on the other hand, there is suspicion of fraud or an issues arise, the L-1 petition may be denied or the USCIS may request additional information.