Since Trump Administration took office, there have been many changes to the way H1B petitions, L1 visa cases are processed and more scrutiny. USCIS has indicated that they will increase site visits to detect fraud and violations as part of the Trump’s Policies and changes to strengthen H1B Program. It is important for you as H1B Employee or L1 worker to be prepared and have the right information in-line with your petition to avoid any future issues.
USCIS Administrative Site Visits Program ? What is FDNS ?
USCIS created this program of Administrative site visits in 2009 to combat fraud and check compliance. As part of the program FDNS ( Fraud Detection and National Security) Officer make unannounced visits to H1B sponsors offices, candidate’s location for compliance review. While the title of the officer seems fancy, it is just a title given for officer who collects info and conducts audit, so do not be worried. The employers for site visits are randomly chosen based on some metrics and some are very targeted after Trump Administration took over.
Important Note : As of now, participating in this program of Administrative site visits is voluntary, but highly desirable. You should check with your employer and have it clarified, if your company wants to participate in it or it. You can tell to the FDNS officer that you are unwilling to participate and they will not further proceed with the site visit and ask for details. They may follow up with your employer or you via email/ phone call or fax.
There are two aspects of it, one is FDNS officer doing site visit and audit of Employer’s location and working with HR and second is to interview the Employee / Beneficiary. In our context, we will cover only the employee part.
How does the Administrative Site Visit happen – Employee ? What to expect ? What to ask ?
Step 1 : Usually FDNS officer will arrive at the work location that is specified on your H1B or L1 petition and without prior intimation and ask the front desk to meet the employee. So, it is important for you to make sure, you know the exact work location that is on your petition, especially in cases that have third party worksite details.
Important Note : It is recommend that you ask the FDNS officer to show identification to be clear. Nothing to fear, it is your right to validate the credentials. You should ask for business card as well.
Step 2 : Once you meet the FDNS Officer, he / she would ask you few questions and may ask to check your exact work desk and they may take pictures as well and document info. Below are some questions that you can expect and need to be prepared with.
USCIS Administrative Site Visit Questions for Employee / Beneficiary :
- What are your Job duties ?
- What are your qualifications ?
- What are your terms of employment ? Since when you were employed ?
- What is your job title ?
- How many hours do you work per week / month ?
- Where do you exactly work in terms of locations ?
- What is manager’s name ?
- Who do you work with on a day to day basis for getting work ?
- Who does your performance appraisals ?
- When you were hired at the company
- What is your Salary ?
- Ask for copy of your LCA ?
- Ask for recent paystubs ? How much are you paid ?
- Ask if you were paid on time and every month ?
- Ask to meet HR or Your current manager and verify all the details that you have said are same.
- Ask, if you paid for the H1B Petition ? If so, how much ?
The whole goal of all these questions above are to ensure that your current employment and duties are same as what was filed in the H1B or L1 petition.
Important Note : As you can see majority of the questions that you would get are related to your H1B or L1 Petition, your job duties, and your profile. It is very important for you as employee to have a copy of your approved H1B or L1 Petition and you understand fully the role, your duties and see if there are any differences. If so, make sure you are aligned with your employer. It is very important for you as an employee to have a conversation with your employer and the immigration attorney on the administrative site visits and protocol for you to follow, if there is a FDNS site visit. You should also request for a copy of your I-9 so that you understand what is in it.
Step 3 : Once officer speaks to you, they will document all the information that was told by you and submit that report to USCIS. If there are any discrepancies in the information, you may be issued a NOIR ( Notice of Intent to Revoke).
What if I am not present during FDNS Officer Site visit ?
Sometimes, you may not be present at the actual work location for a variety of reasons like you may be on leave or traveling for business or maybe your work location is different. It is very important to make sure that your absence is documented or informed to HR or your Manager at your worksite, so that they can give right answer. USCIS officer will email you or call you to arrange for another meetup when you are back in office. If let’s say your work location has changed and that details are different from the one in petition, then it could lead to issues in compliance. Also, if you are working in different places, that has to be detailed in the itinerary when the petition is submitted so that all that info is there to avoid issues. It is important for you as an employee to be clear on your current work address and the one that was in petition to be same. Even, if you take promotion and change offices, that has to properly documented and updated as needed by working with your attorney otherwise, site visits can cause issues.
Overall, there is nothing to panic, if you get a administrative site visit. Does not mean that your company was bad or anything, it would just be that you got lucky in random selection of company…You have your rights to ask for identification and there is nothing to worry. You need to make sure you discuss scenarios like these and be prepared to avoid issues.
Were you part of a site visit with FDNS officer ? What questions were asked ? Your thoughts ?
Reference : USCIS Administrative Site Visits Program Page