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Los Angeles, CA Estate & Business Planning Blog

Monday, December 8, 2014

FDNS Administrative Site Visits/ Business Law

In 2009, the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a program to ensure that employers comply with immigration rules designed to protect public safety and national security.  Under the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP), FDNS makes surprise site inspections to verify the information that employers provide to the government.

Who Is Inspected?

The FDNS selects sites at random, before or after adjudication of a visa petition.  It focuses on employer fraud in immigration petitions filed on Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker), particularly in connection with H-1B, L-1, R-1, and certain other workers.  If it finds fraud, it asks the USCIS to deny or revoke a petition.  An employer could also face fines and penalties.

What Happens During an Inspection?

FDNS Inspectors arrive without notice at a workplace.  They usually interview the employer or a representative, and the foreign worker or "beneficiary" who is the subject of the inquiry.  They may interview each separately to determine whether employer and employee answer the same questions similarly.  They may ask for tax records, employee lists, and payroll information.

ASVVP site inspectors are given five specific tasks to perform at each site visit:

  • Verify that that the employer is not fictitious;
  • Verify the accuracy of information submitted by the employer;
  • Take digital photographs;
  • Review documents on site and make sure they match those submitted to the government; and
  • Confirm the beneficiary's work location, employment, duties, compensation, hours, and other details.

 What Happens Afterwards?

 The site inspectors make a report of their findings to FDNS, which may provide a Summary of Findings to an Immigration Services Officer (ISO).  The ISO decides whether a petitioner organization is entitled to the immigration benefit it seeks.  The ISO may also request further information from the petitioner.  If the FDNS detects signs of criminal immigration fraud, it may refer the matter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 How Should Employers and Employees Prepare?

 Both the employer and the beneficiary worker should be familiar with the information included in the employer's I-129 so they can answer questions accurately and consistently.  Employers should make sure that the information in their petition is up-to-date and amend the petition if there have been changes.  Employers should also designate a representative—an attorney or HR manager—to deal with inspections and make sure that tax documents, employment records, and immigration forms are readily available.

These matters can be complex and time consuming.  It is therefore in your best interest to contact an experienced immigration attorney in the event that you are accused of violating these laws or if would like to ensure that you are in compliance with them.


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