Category: Employment visas

USCIS to Renew Premium Processing for FY 2018 H1B Visas

 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday that it would resume premium processing for all H1B visa petitions covered by the Fiscal Year year (FY) 2018 cap. Congress limits the number of H1B visas each year to 65,000 for all U.S. employers, except for institutions of higher learning and affiliated research facilities.  USCIS will also now accept requests for premium processing for the 20,000 additional H1B visas available to individuals who have a masters’ or higher degree from an American college or university.

Premium processing currently costs $1,225.  Employers who use premium processing are promised to have a decision for the I-129 Petition for an Alien Worker within 15 working days.  If the 15- calendar day processing time is not met, the agency promises to refund the petitioner’s premium processing service fee and continue with the “faster” processing of the application.

Earlier this year, USCIS suspended the use of the premium processing program immediately before most employers filed their H1Bs before the April 1, 2018 deadline.  This has led to long delays in the processing of this year’s cap-subject H1Bs.

H1B visas are limited to individuals who work in specialty occupations.  These visas are not available for every job in America, but only a limited category of specialty jobs such as accountant, software developer, physician, etc.

Because the federal fiscal year starts on October 1 each year, the start date of the approved H1B visas is typically October 1 and they last approximately three years.  Federal law allows employers to file six months early, i.e., April 1.

Since Congress has limited the number of available H1B visas every year to 65,000, plus the additional 20,000 for individuals with higher degrees, USCIS typically conducts a lottery each year.  Some applications are accepted, many are not.

Those applications which were not selected have already been returned.  USCIS continues to adjudicate many of the visa applications submitted back on April 1st.  Employers who have H1B applications that remain undecided will have to figure out if it makes sense for them to pay for premium processing at this late date.

One final note: H1B premium processing remains unavailable for extensions of the H1B visa, as well as “transfers” for H1B employees from one job to another.

What is Extreme Vetting

What is extreme vetting and how is it going to affect my immigration case?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

With the election of President Donald Trump, he threw around the phrase “extreme vetting” in the immigration context. We’ve had a lot of clients ask us what does extreme vetting mean and how is it going to impact my case? We thought we’d shoot this short video to discuss it.

One thing you need to know about the immigration process, I think we can all agree it takes a very long time, that when you’re dealing with agencies like U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of State, Customs and Border Patrol, that there are a lot of steps for the process and no one would ever accuse the Federal Government of moving quickly on immigration cases. This is cases that take place within the United States, like adjustment of status or citizenship and also involves cases overseas where a U.S. citizen or an employer is trying to bring over a foreign national to come to the United States and have to go through the State Department and the Embassy. No one would ever say that these cases go by lickety-split, in fact, they take a very long time. The reason that they take a very is because the government is already doing an extreme amount of vetting.

Just in the last five years, we’ve seen forms balloon in size. For instance, the application to adjust status used to be six pages long. It is currently 20 pages long and growing. The same for citizenship, citizenship used to be just a few pages long, and now it is many, many pages. In the spouse visa context, we use an I-130. That form used to be two pages and now it is not two pages, but it’s much longer. It actually involves two different forms, one for the spouse, who is a U.S. citizen and one for the overseas spouse. The federal government knows how to make things grow and especially when it comes to forms and making things more complex.

Add to all this, President Trump claiming that he wanted to increase vetting to cause extreme vetting to occur when someone applies for an immigration benefit. We’ve already seen the results of this as these forms are slowly implemented. Things are slowing down at the Immigration Service. Things are slowing down at the State Department. We have cases that use to take four or five months that now take eight or nine months and they’re really being nitpicky and they’re coming up with ways to slow things down. We think that the Trump Administration has brought in experts in Immigration Law and they’ve come up in ways that are pretty devious and pretty creative to really make it harder for you to bring your loved one to the Untied States, to keep your loved one in the United States, to help them get lawful status, to help them get citizenship and we’re really seeing the consequences of this with the delays.

The other thing is that when you have an agency that’s own heightened alert like this and that wants to make things harder for everybody that we’re really seeing that denials are increasing, frustration is increasing. We’re getting a lot of people who come to see us having filed for themselves and they screwed up their case. We do what we can to help them, but this is a new era. The Trump Administration has brought a new sense of scrutiny to the Immigration Service with a harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. The people that work at the Immigration Office seem to have slowed things down and we’re really seeing clients that are frustrated.

If you need help with this, if you’re wondering how is extreme vetting going to hurt my case or slow down my case? How could I do things to make things better, how can I increase the chances of success? How can I make sure that I do everything possible to speed my case along? You’re probably going to need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. You’re probably going to need help. It’s a new day. It’s a new time. There’s a new President and he has made immigration one of his focus issues. He has decided to have his Administration do what they can to slow things down, especially for people from particular countries, from the Middle East, from predominantly Muslim countries. These cases are going to take a lot longer, a lot harder.

We see this too in the asylum context, that it’s going to be a lot harder and a lot longer to get asylum. The Immigration Courts are backlogged, everything’s slowing down and that is by design. The Trump Administration wants to slow down immigration to the United States. They want to make it harder for people to come here and stay here. We’ll do what we can to fight for you to help you, to help smooth line the process, to help you not have to worry so much.

We hope you liked this video. Be sure to give us a call if you need some help. (314) 961-8200 or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you liked this video, be sure to click “Like” below to share it with your friends and to subscribe to our YouTube and Facebook channels, so that you get updated whenever we shoot a video like this.

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

Trump Administration Shakes Up the H-1b System

Over the past several weeks, the nation has seen some revisions to the interpretation of our country’s immigration laws related to the system that allows foreign nationals to work in the United States.

Generally, foreign nationals are not allowed to work in the U.S. without authorization.  The name of the visa that most foreigners use to work is the H-1b visa.

Federal law allows for the issuance of 65,000 H-1b visas to foreign nationals with a college degree in a “specialty occupation.”  Another 20,000 such H-1bs are set aside for foreign workers with a master’s degree from a U.S. institution of higher learning.

The H-1b system is based on federal law, as passed by Congress many years ago.

The President’s role in the H-1b system is to enforce laws passed by Congress, including the H-1b system.  The new Trump administration has made several recent and important changes to the H-1b program.

These changes will affect immigrants working in the St. Louis area and throughout the United States.

Premium Processing Suspended

The first change occurred in late March of 2017, shortly before the filing deadline for the next fiscal year of H-1b visas.  The Department of Homeland Security issued an announcement on the USCIS website that premium processing for H-1b visas had been temporarily suspended.

Premium processing allows an employer seeking to hire a foreign worker to obtain an answer in a few short weeks as opposed to waiting for five or six months.  Under the Trump administration, foreign workers and the U.S. companies that wish to hire them will have to wait much longer for an answer.

Mr. Trump made it clear during the presidential campaign that his number one priority was helping American workers and it appears that this change is designed to make it harder and more cumbersome to hire foreign nationals.

Computer Programmer Job May No Longer Qualify

On March 31, 2017, the day before next year’s H-1b applications were due, USCIS changed the rules regarding the availability of H-1b visas for the position of “computer programmer.”

The agency rescinded a 2000 memorandum that said that the role of a computer programmer would usually qualify as a specialty occupation and therefore be eligible for an H-1b visa.

USCIS issued a new memorandum that makes clear that foreign nationals employed as computer programmers, especially those in entry-level positions, may no longer be treated as working in a “specialty occupation.”  Because many computer programmers work without a specific college degree in computer programming, the job may not always be considered a specialty occupation.  Therefore, the H-1b visa may not be available for these foreign workers.

From the memo:

Based on the current version of the [Occupational Outlook] Handbook, the fact that a person may be employed as a computer programmer and may use information technology skills and knowledge to help an enterprise achieve its goals in the course of his or her job is not sufficient to establish the position as a specialty occupation. Thus, a petitioner may not rely solely on the Handbook to meet its burden when seeking to sponsor a beneficiary for a computer programmer position. Instead, a petitioner must provide other evidence to establish that the particular position is one in a specialty occupation as defined by 8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(ii) that also meets one of the criteria at 8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(iii). Section 214(i)(1) of the INA; see also Royal Siam Corp. v. Chertoff, 484 F.3d 139, 147 (1st Cir. 2007).

This is an important change.

Any employer looking to hire a foreign national is required to pay the prevailing wage.  The prevailing wage is calculated by looking at the average wages paid in a particular geographic area for that occupation type.

Computer programmers make significantly less than software developers.  The thought is that employers have been saving money and undercutting the American worker by paying foreign nationals as computer programmers instead of as software developers.

This change will require companies, especially foreign staffing companies, to pay a lot more to their employees or risk having their H-1b applications denied.

It is interesting, to say the least, that the Trump administration decided to make this announcement on the day that immigration lawyers and employers were shipping thousands of H-1b applications to the USCIS service centers for processing.  It appears that this was designed to harm employers who were relying on their ability to hire foreign nationals in this role.

H-1B Abuse Enforcement Announced

On April 3, 2017, USCIS issued a press release to announce “multiple measures to further deter and detect H1B visa fraud and abuse.”

The release is entitled Putting American Workers First: USCIS Announces Further Measures to Detect H-1B Visa Fraud and Abuse.

USCIS has adopted new criteria to determine which H1B employers and worksites are to be targeted for site visits. An updated website and email address have been implemented to purportedly make it easier to notify USCIS that H-1b abuse has occurred.

Site Visits and Enforcement

Since 2009, USCIS has routinely conducted random site visits of H-1b employers and work sites. Starting with the issuance of the press release, USCIS will ramp up the number of site visits conducted and The USCIS has been conducting random site visits to the offices of H1B petitioners and work locations since 2009. Effective immediately, however, the USCIS will increase the number of site visits it conducts and “take a more targeted approach when making site visits across the country.”

The memo takes aim at the following situations: employers whose basic information cannot be verified through commercial databases; employers deemed “dependent” on H-1B workers; and, employers such as consulting companies whose employees will work off-site at another organization’s location.

USCIS also announced the use of a new email address (ReportH1BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov) to allow American workers to report suspected H-1b fraud or abuse.  The agency also published an online reference page that lists other available ways that suspected H1B fraud or abuse may be reported.  The website also lists examples of the types of behavior that may indicate H-1b fraud.  The protections available to U.S. workers are also provided on that site.

On the same day that USCIS issued its press release, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice sent out a separate release that makes it clear that U.S. employers are not supposed to discriminate against the American worker.

From the release:

The anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) generally prohibits employers from discriminating against U.S. workers because of their citizenship or national origin in hiring, firing and recruiting. Employers violate the INA if they have a discriminatory hiring preference that favors H-1B visa holders over U.S. workers.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “U.S. workers should not be placed in a disfavored status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims.”

These recent changes suggest that Mr. Trump intends to make it more difficult for foreign nationals to work in the U.S.  As a candidate, Trump consistently portrayed immigrants as outsiders coming to take “our jobs.”  These changes to the law may make it significantly harder for employers to hire and retain foreign nationals.

We will keep you apprised of any additional changes to the law.

How Do I Find an H1b Employer?

How do I find an employer who’s willing to sponsor me for an H1B employment visa?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We get this question a lot. We’ve a lot of foreign nationals who are either working or are going to school and about to graduate and they wonder, “How can I find an employer who’s willing to sponsor me for a work visa?” Of course you have to recall that generally foreign nationals are not allowed to work in the United States, but there is a visa called an H1B employment visa that’s available for people that work in specialty occupation. One thing to keep in mind is that not every job is eligible for a work visa. You have to have a degree in most cases or a very high set of specialized knowledge, but generally that’s going to be reflected in a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree and you are going to have to be in a field that generally requires a degree in that field. So not every job has the eligibility for an H1B visa.

But let’s suppose that you’re working in a field that does qualify for an H1B and you want to find an employer who’s willing to sponsor you. I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is that the H1B process is hard, it’s expensive, and it’s complicated. A lot of employers haven’t been through the process before, so if you are a foreign national and you’re going to need an H1B employment visa, that might be a lot for employers to overcome or to get their mind around all the hoops and hurdles that they have to jump through in order to get you an employment visa. What I like to tell people is that you should look to see where people have sponsored before, and you want to find employers who are willing to sponsor you for an H1B. The way I think that you do that is you find people that have sponsored for H1B visas before. They’ve been through the process. They know the hurdles. They know the headache, and if you’re an outstanding enough candidate, they’re going to be willing to do it for you.

The way that I tell people to find that is a great website called myvisajobs.com, www.myvisajobs.com. If you go to that website you can search by company names, you can search by geographical regions, you can search by job, and you can see who has sponsored people in my field for an employment visa. It’s really a great tool. There is a basic version that’s free, and there’s an expanded version if you subscribe. You can find all the employers in your area who sponsored in your specific field. I think this is really important, it really cuts down on you wasting your time with an employer who may not be willing to sponsor you. Sometimes employers just don’t want to do it. They throw their arms up and they say, “We’re not doing it.” I think you’re really banging your head against the wall if you’re trying to start from scratch with an employer who’s never been through it. It’s not to say that it can’t be done but I just think your chances are going to be much greater.

You might also consider downloading our free book and you can get that. It’s called the “Staying Here Book.” It’s a guide for foreign nationals on how to find a job, and it really provides a lot of the tips and tricks that we like to tell our students and people who are interested in staying in the United States. You can download that for free. If you go to www.stayingherebook.com and you can download that book for free.

Definitely make sure that you’re searching in the right areas, make sure that you’re networking, find out from your friends what employers are sponsoring, find out from other people in your industry. You want to follow them on LinkedIn. You want to connect with them on social media. You want to see who are the movers and shakers in your field, and you want to learn a way to get to know them. You don’t necessarily want to bum-rush them for a job in particular, but instead to ask them what are the trends you’re seeing in the industry, who are the people that hiring, do you think it makes sense for me to reach out to this person or that person. You really want to have a network of advisors who are not people that necessarily are going to hire you, but are willing to give you good advice and to let you know about the field.

If you have any questions about this, about the H1B employment process, or about how to talk to your employer about sponsorship for an H1B, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can download that book again at www.stayingherebook.com or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. We’ll be sure to get back to you. If you liked this video, please click the like button and share it with your friends. Also if you want to get updates as to our YouTube channel or Facebook videos, make sure you subscribe so that when we update with new videos, you’re the first one to know about it. Thanks a lot. Good luck with the job search. Have a great day.

USCIS Announces Steep Filing Fee Increases

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS has announced an increase to many of the fees associated with filing for immigration benefits in the United States.  This is the first fee increase in six years.

The increase goes into effect on December 23, 2016.

The average fee increase is 21 percent.

The biometric fee for all applicable applications will remain $85.

uscis

Naturalization and Citizenship

The cost to naturalize (N-400) in most cases will increase from $595 to $640 (with the biometrics fee, this amount will be $725).

One slight tweak to the filing fee requirement is that applicants with income greater than 150% but not more than 200% of the federal guidelines will pay a reduced fee of $405, including biometrics.

The naturalization fee waiver will remain available to lawful permanent residents who receive public assistance or have incomes under 150% of those poverty guidelines.

The fee for form N-600, the application for a certificate of citizenship, will increase almost 100% – from $600 to $1170.  This form is generally used for lawful permanent residents who became citizens as a matter of law, usually because their custodial parent became a citizen before they turned 18 years old.

Family-Based Immigration

The fee for an I-130 relative petition, which includes spouse petitions, will increase from $420 to $535.

Adjustment of status (I-485) application fees will go up from $985 to $1140.  So with biometrics, the total adjustment of status fee will go from $1140 to $1225.

Applications for a travel document (I-131) will increase a lot – from $360 to $575.

Employment-Based Immigration

Petitions for non-immigrant workers in the H-1b category will increase from $325 to $460 (in addition to the $750/$1500 training fee and $500 fraud prevention and detection fee).

Non-immigrant visas in the L category will also increase to $460 with the $500 fraud prevention and detection fee).

A petition for an immigrant worker for an immigrant visa (green card) – the I-140 – will increase from $580 to $700.

An application for employment authorization (EAD), the I-765, will increase from $380 to $410.

Silicon Valley University Stripped of Ability to Recruit Foreign Students

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement revoked authorization previously extended to Herguan University for recruiting international students.  The Silicon Valley university has been popular with foreign students from India.

ICE estimates that the school has 240 foreign students, 180 of them from India.

Herguan University is a for-profit university.

herguanu1

Last year, former Herguan University Chief Executive Officer pleaded guilty to filing false immigration documents with the Department of Homeland Security.  He served time in a California prison after pleading guilty to submitting more than 100 false documents to DHS while enrolling international students.  He also paid a fine of $700,000.

Students enrolled at Herguan have until January 11, 2017 to either leave the U.S. or transfer to another college or university.  If one of those actions are not completed in that time period, the students’ records will be terminated in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System and they will be considered out of status.

Students who have not yet entered the U.S. will not be admitted into the U.S. with the Herguan-issued Form I-20.

ICE is requiring Herguan to notify each of their active and inactive students of the school’s loss of the ability to issue Form I-20s.

In March of 2014, a federal jury convicted the head of another for-profit California university – Tri-Valley – on charges of visa fraud, money laundering and harboring an alien.  Susan Su allegedly charged foreign nationals millions of dollars in exchange for false documents that would allow the students to stay and work in the United States.

With this university being located in Silicon Valley, we suspect that the university was really a front to provide IT workers to tech companies in the Bay Area.  With the high demand for talent and the limited number of legal options – namely, our nation’s broken H-1B visa program – it appears that some of the students at Herguan were probably working through the Curricular Practical Training program.  It seems likely that the students were not fulfilling all of their educational requirements associated with their F1 student visas.

Students who have questions regarding Herguan University are advised to contact an immigration lawyer and/or the SEVP Response Center (SRC) at 703–603–3400.

 

 

 

What does USCIS mean when they say that a job must be in a specialty occupation for an H1b visa?

One of the first things that you should know about H1b visas is that not all jobs qualify for H1b employment visas.  
 
In order for an H1b to be available, the job must be a specialty occupation.

What is a specialty occupation?

Specialty occupations require a theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge.   This typically involves a showing that the position requires a bachelor’s degree or higher, that such a degree is common in the industry, that the employer normally requires such a degree, and that the job duties are so specialized that the requirements of the job are usually associated with that degree.  The employee’s background and qualifications must also track the job duties in the offered position.

Visa

The foreign worker must either:

  • (1) hold a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree as required by the specialty occupation from an accredited institution;
  • (2) possess a foreign degree determined to be an equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s;
  • (3) have any required license to practice the occupation (like an architect, surveyor or physical therapist); or,
  • (4) have education, specialized training, or progressively responsible experience that is equivalent to completion of a U.S. bachelor’s degree and have recognition of progressively responsible expertise through job promotions within that field.

The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service sometimes requests additional evidence that the position sought qualifies for the specialty occupation classification.  These requests for evidence can be long, burdensome and very specific.

The best way to minimize the chances of a request for evidence on the specialty occupation issue is to provide documentation with the initial filing that the job is properly considered a specialty one.  This can involve affidavits, surveys, letters from similar employers and other evidence from industry hiring customs.

If you are wondering if your occupation qualifies as a specialty occupation, feel free to email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com or call us at (314) 961-8200 and we’d be happy to set up a time to discuss. 

Convictions in Texas H1B visa fraud case

A pair of brothers that hired H-1B workers have been found guilty of breaking federal law on November 12.  The six day long trial took place in the U.S. District Court in Dallas.  The brothers, Atul Nanda and Jiten Nanda, are each facing conviction of one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and conspiracy to commit visa fraud and four counts of wire fraud.  Dibon Solutions, an IT consulting group owned by the Nanda family, is involved in the case.  Their indictment was filed by the United States in 2013.  

They could potentially face 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.  Their sentencing date has yet to be set.  

The U.S. claimed that the Nanda brothers had recruited foreign citizens and represented H-1B visa workers with the intention of working at Dibon Solution’s office in Texas.  They went on to say they “did not have an actual position at the time [the foreign workers] were recruited,” and that the employees actually were providing their services to third-party companies.  

DOJ

The government further said, “paid for time spent working at a third-party company and only if the third-party company actually first paid Dibon for the workers’ services.”

“The conspirators falsely represented that the workers had full-time positions and were paid an annual salary, as required by regulation to secure the visas,” the government said about the conviction.  

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Department of State.  The government claimed that Dibon Solutions were given “a labor pool of inexpensive, skilled foreign workers.”  This scheme was found to be profitable.  They went on to say, “required minimal overhead, and Dibon could charge significant hourly rates for a computer consultant’s services.”

The Nanda brothers “earned a substantial profit margin when a consultant was assigned to a project and incurred few costs when a worker was without billable work,” said a government report.  

No such thing as an H1B transfer?

There’s no such thing as an H1B transfer.

What?

I am Jim Hacking, immigration attorney practicing law throughout the United States and based here in St. Louis Missouri. We have a lot of visitors through our website and people who send us emails or call the office wanting to know how to transfer their HIB from one employer to another. We also get contacted by employers who want to hire someone who already has an approved HIB. We felt we’d make this video to clear up some of the misconceptions between the whole HIB transfer issue. The reason I put the transfer in air quotes is because there’s not truly a transfer. You’re not transferring anything from one employer to another. What is really happening is a new HIB visa is being applied for.

Why is this important and how does this impact the international worker? Well, you’re probably familiar with HIB lottery. Every year, too many people applied for not enough visa. In 2015, there were 225,000 visa applications for only 85,000 spots. We’re talking now about the cap-subject HIB visa. HIB visas for the most part if you’re working outside of an institution of higher learning, if you’re working for a private employer, you’re going to be subject to the cap. People who make it through the cap and get an approved HIB, they hold something that’s very valuable. Sometimes those people with valid HIB visas want to transfer their job from one employer to another. They want to know if they can bring their HIB visa with them and more importantly do they have to go through the lottery.

That’s the real thing that’s different about someone transferring in. They’ve already made it through the lottery. That spot that they hold transfers with them and that’s why the HIB is very valuable for them. If an employer comes across someone who has an approved HIB and is working for another employer, they can file a new I-129 petition to get a visa for the person. They still have to go through all the processes and paperwork that are attached to an HIB. In many ways, the HIB transfer is a whole new HIB application. The only difference being that they don’t have to go through the lottery. They don’t have to wait until April 1st to apply. They don’t have to wait until October 1st to start.

If you’re going from a cap-subject employer to another cap-subject employer and you’ve already been approved for an HIB, then you’re going to be able to “transfer” that visa from one employer to another. Now one thing to keep in mind is that a lot of times employers who sponsor people for HIBs will have employment contracts. There will be language in the contract that may or may not govern the transfer itself or the leaving of the employee from the first employer to the second employer. You need to be very careful about that and you need to talk to an attorney in your state that can help you interpret the contract that you may have signed associated with your HIB visa. Putting contractual issues to the side for a minute, you do have the ability to take that HIB visa with you.

An HIB transfer is something that has a lot of appeal to employers too because that freeze them up to find workers during the course of the year when they maybe particularly busy. They may need to hire someone in a pinch. If someone has already gone through the process of getting an HIB, then in many ways, they’re way ahead of the game because the employer only has to go through the paperwork of filing. That filing entails filing a whole new LCA with the Department of Labor. That takes about 10 days. Then if the employer is smart and pays for premium processing, they should be able to get all their paperwork through the immigration service in about 3 weeks or so.

We recently had an HIB transfer and the whole thing took altogether about 24 hours, so we are really happy with that. We file a strong application and the paperwork was all done correctly. The process went very smoothly. These are the things that employers need to think about. These are the things employees need to think about. An employer who’s hiring away an HIB, employer should be careful not to tamper with the employment contract. You don’t want to open yourself up to a lawsuit from the first employer. I’m really surprised that there aren’t more problems between initial employers and secondary employers. I think that’s an area that might develop in litigation and might be right for problems.

If you have questions about the HIB transfer process, if you’re concerned about it, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can always email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you like this video, do me a favor and subscribe to our videos on the YouTube channel. That way you’ll be updated whenever we shoot a new video. If you like this video, give us a like. We’d really appreciate it and it helps us get out the read to other people who might like to learn about HIB visas, transfer and all the rest of immigration. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

H1b Fraud detection – Random Site Visits

USCIS has publicly claimed that as one-in-five H-1B applications were either fraudulently filed or included violations of the program itself.  This has led to a significant increase in the amount of anti-fraud investigations by the agency.  These investigations usually involve surprise site visits to the offices of U.S. H-1B employers.  

Many of these investigations are conducted by the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS).  This office was created in 2004 to make sure that immigration rules and regulations were being followed. According to the USCIS, FDNS’ primary mission is to detect, deter, and combat immigration benefit fraud and to strengthen USCIS’ efforts to make sure that our immigration system is not being abused.

The FDNS conducts random, unannounced onsite inspections as part of the expansion of its Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program, which started in 2009. The agency hires private contractors to send “investigators” out to conduct site visits to H-1B employers to verify if the foreign-born employee is working at the employer and performing the work as outlined in the H-1B petition. The FDNS investigators seek to confirm the identities of both the H-1B employer and the visa beneficiary in order to make sure that both the company and the worker are complying with the conditions of the H-1B visa.  

USCIS

The objective of the unannounced site visits is clear: to detect fraud and abuses of the visa program. According to USCIS, the agency has uncovered both technical violations of the law to outright fraud, with the most common violation being the employer’s deliberate or accidental failure to pay the prevailing wage to the international employee.

The investigations are referred to as compliance reviews and are designed to compare information contained in the I-129 petition with the facts on the ground.  The site inspectors verify the information submitted with the petition and that the employer actually exists, take photographs, review documents, interview company personnel and interview the beneficiary.  After the site visit, the FDNS officer issues a Compliance Review Report, which becomes part of the employer’s record.  If fraud is indicated, further investigation may be conducted or the case may be referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.