USCIS held a stakeholder engagement on April 24, 2014 to discuss their new expansion of the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program to L-1 visas. The Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASSVP) is currently used in the H-1B context after case approval and includes, among other things, a review of public records, unannounced site visits, and interviews of the petitioner (or authorized company representative) and beneficiary.
During the meeting, USCIS announced that they will be expanding ASSVP to L-1A extension petitions in the “near future.” The selection process for inspection is completely random, not based on targeted fraud selection, and will not cause delays in the USCIS service center adjudications. For the initial rollout, USCIS inspections will be limited to L-1A extension filed through USCIS and will not capture blanket or NAFTA L-1A applications.
The site inspection program is entirely voluntary and can be terminated by either the petitioner or beneficiary. During an inspection, requested documentation should be provided immediately, if readily available, or submitted in a timely manner. The inspection results will be classified as either “verified” or “not verified.” Site inspectors will be USCIS employees who are not authorized to accept withdrawals of petitions, readjudicate petitions, or make a finding of fraud. Inspection results are reviewed by a USCIS supervisor and may be forwarded to the Fraud Detection and National Security Unit in USCIS service centers to determine if follow up action is necessary. Petitioners would have an opportunity to respond to adverse findings.
A standard set of questions will be posed during the site visit, including:
- Does the facility visually appear to be the one described in the petition?
- Was contact made with petitioner’s signatory or appropriate human resources or management point of contact?
- Viability of documentation collected regarding the presence of the organization as a business?
- Was the beneficiary interviewed?
- Does the signatory or point of contact who was interviewed during the site visit have knowledge of the originally filed petition associated with the beneficiary?
- Is the beneficiary working for the business cited in the petition?
- Is the beneficiary knowledgeable, cooperative, and forthcoming about the workplace?
- Is the beneficiary being compensated with the salary indicated in petition?
- Is the beneficiary performing the duties indicated in the petition?
Given these increased investigations, employers, foreign national employees, and their immigration attorneys must remain as vigilant as ever in documenting immigration cases and compliance requirements with USCIS. It is recommended that employers prepare for immigration-related worksite visits by developing and implementing vigorous compliance policies and planning how to respond when immigration officers visit.