U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS)/Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) administrative site visits have resumed rapidly in recent days. FDNS is targeting nonimmigrant petitions, particularly H petitions and L petitions, and most recently, F-1 STEM OPTs were added. Many employers and employees have experienced FDNS site visits in recent days.
In this article, we will discuss the purpose of these administrative site visits, what employers need to know, and how employees should prepare for site visits.
What is FDNS:
The office of Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) is doing inspections and administrative investigations on behalf of USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). USCIS created this program in 2009 through FDNS officers.
FDNS is targeting non-immigrant petitions including religious worker petitions, and EB-5 immigrant investor program visas filed with USCIS. FDNS conducts random and targeted site visits on both employee and employer sites to collect information as part of a compliance review. These inspections are not announced ahead of time.
The purpose of FDNS site visits is to ensure that the filed petitions are valid and accurate, and that the petitioner and beneficiary followed the terms and conditions of their petitions. These visits validate the documents that were included at the time of the filed petition. They confirm work location, wages, job duties, and responsibilities are valid and accurate.
Purpose of FDNS Site visits on H/L petitions:
At the time of the random or targeted site visit, the officer will perform the following activities:
- Verify the petitions that were filed with USCIS
- Verify the employer business activities
- Verify the beneficiary work location list in the labor certification audit, job duties, wage paid, benefits offer by employer, and right to control by the employer
- Interview with the beneficiary
- Interview with employer officials
The FDNS officer will either come directly to the work location, or they will reach out to the employer via email to gather all necessary information. The officer may request the following items from the employer:
- Did your organization file the Form I-129 petition?
- What type of business does your organization conduct?
- Is your organization a staffing company?
- Does your organization provide products or services?
- What is the address for your organization’s headquarters? If there are additional locations, what are those addresses?
- Does your organization use virtual offices or shared spaces? If a shared space, with whom or what company is the space shared with? Provide copies of the lease agreement.
- Where will the beneficiary be working?
- If the beneficiary is working from home due to COVID-19, please provide the beneficiary’s home address.
- Provide the contact information for the beneficiary (phone and email).
- How many employees does your organization have?
- How many are H, L, F1, or another nonimmigrant classification?
- Provide a list of beneficiaries to include name, nonimmigrant classification, work location and end-client.
- Provide a copy of the petition for beneficiary.
- Provide a copy of beneficiary’s wage report.
- If the beneficiary is working offsite, how will you communicate with and supervise the beneficiary?
- If the beneficiary is working offsite, is your organization or the end-client responsible for providing the tools or instruments necessary for the beneficiary to perform their duties?
- What are the beneficiary’s duties and assignments?
- Will the beneficiary’s compensation be reported through a W2 or 1099?
- Will the beneficiary be working on internal products or end-client products? If internal products, how many beneficiaries in total will be working on the project? What type of products will the beneficiary be working on? Who are the potential customers for this product?
- What type of work will the beneficiary be assigned?
- Will the beneficiary be working at any other locations other than the end-client’s listed address on the Form I-129/LCA? If so, provide the alternate location’s address.
FDNS Inquiry to Beneficiaries
FDNS officers can visit work locations, and they can directly reach out to beneficiaries to conduct the interview. The goal of interviewing the beneficiary is to make sure that current employment and other details are compliant with immigration law and there is no breach of law.
Important items to be remembered
The beneficiary needs to make sure to speak to their employer before they meet with the officer. Beneficiaries should have a copy of their filed petition. Employees need to answer only questions they are aware of. If the employee doesn’t know or understand a question, they can ask the officer to email them, or they can get back to the officer. Again, the employee should be able to answer general questions, such as who their employer is, what their job title is, etc.
Below are possible questions during site visits:
- What is your name?
- Who is your employer?
- Are you a full-time employee?
- When did you start working for your current employer?
- What is your work address?
- When did you begin working at this address?
- Do you work at other work sites?
- Do you work on other projects?
- What is your job title?
- How many hours do you work per week/month?
- How much are you paid every month?
- Who is your supervisor?
- What is the name of the project you are working on? (if any)
- How are you supervised by your employer?
- Does your employer provide all the necessary tools for you to perform your job duties?
- What are your job duties?
- Who paid the I-129 fees?
- Did your employer later deduct the fees from your pay?
- Please provide your contact information, address, email, phone number.
- Please provide the following documents – paystubs, a copy of a photo ID, etc.
- How did you find out about this job?
If employee is not at actual work location listed in the LCA:
Due to COVID-19, many employees are working from home. Employees need to update their manager or company human resources department about their work location. This way, when an officer arrives, they can be provided accurate contact details for the employee. Please make sure to be at the location where your LCA has been filed. It is best for it to be within commuting distance, or in the same metropolitan area.
After a site visit:
There is no cause for alarm just because a site visit occurred. It is very common, and conducted by law. Once the FDNS officer has completed their visit and verification, they will submit their report to USCIS. Because FDNS officer are not adjudicators, they will not make any final decisions. USCIS will review the submitted report and take action if needed.
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