USCIS Holds Stakeholder Call on L-1A Site Visits
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) held a stakeholder call on April 24, 2014, on the implementation of L-1A site visits for intracompany transferee managers and executives. The following are highlights from the call:
USCIS said that site visits are randomly selected and not based on suspected fraud or tips received. All L-1A extensions are included in the pool, not just new offices. The trigger is the filing of a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS. The agency noted that at the moment, there does not seem to be a method for including petitions filed at the border by Canadians or petitions filed at consulates based on a blanket L-1, but USCIS is trying to figure out how to include them as well.
The inspection program is being phased in and may be extended to initial petitions and/or L-1B specialized knowledge employees in the future, USCIS said. Inspection officers do not have authority to withdraw, approve, deny, or re-adjudicate a petition. Also, they do not have the authority to make a finding of fraud, but they can forward the results of the inspection to the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) for further investigation. The inspection report assesses compliance with the L regulations and the result is either “verified” or “unverified.” A supervisor reviews all inspection findings.
Attorneys may be present, but officers may not wait for them to show up. Participation in the inspection is voluntary, USCIS noted. The petitioner may at any time request that the inspection be stopped, and the inspection officer will stop and create the report based on the information obtained up to that point and through other methods (e.g., Internet, telephone, email, conversations with neighbors). Stopping the investigation will not necessarily result in an “unverified” conclusion, USCIS said.
Employers should be prepared to present all documents submitted with the original L-1A petition. One caller noted that employers are not required to maintain public access files in the L context and therefore may have difficulty immediately producing these documents. USCIS replied that the production expectation is the same for Ls as it is for Hs, but they will be allowed to follow up with the officer after the inspection to clarify and/or provide requested documents that were not readily available at the time of the inspection.
According to USCIS, each inspection will touch on issues easily addressed in many cases by information contained in the L-1A petition. Some of those issues noted on the call include:
- Whether the facility employed by the business appears to be the one described in the petition.
- Whether the inspector made contact with the signatory of the petition or a human resources representative or management point of contact who could answer questions about the petition filed and the visa holder.
- Whether the information in the petition is viable and whether the documents collected related to the presence of the organization as a business.
- Whether the inspector was able to interview the beneficiary.
- Whether the petition signatory, human resources representative, or manager interviewed had knowledge of the originally filed petition associated with the beneficiary.
- Whether the inspector found the beneficiary to be working for the organization cited in the petition. Whether the beneficiary was knowledgeable, forthcoming, and cooperative.
- Whether the beneficiary is being compensated with the salary indicated in the petition.
- Whether the beneficiary is performing the duties indicated in the petition.