The days of considering the H1B visa process a purely administrative process are over. In the not so distant past, H1B cases were just about the forms and the evidence submitted in the case. If the USCIS liked the arguments and supporting documents, an approval was issued.
Things are not so simple today. Recently, the USCIS has begun making visits to the U.S. work sites of companies that sponsor H-1B and L-1 visa holders, including some large U.S.-based financial services companies. USCIS agents come with a checklist of questions designed to confirm the identity of the employer who petitioned for the visa and the visa beneficiary and to verify that both are in compliance with the terms and conditions of the visa. The objective of the unannounced on-site visits is clear: to detect fraud and abuses of the visa program.
Here is the problem, USCIS investigation tactics often exceed what is necessary and reasonable to obtain H-1B application verification information. Unlike the Department of Labor, which has the statutory authority to investigate an employer’s compliance with visa obligations but rarely conducts audits unless there are complaints, the USCIS has no statutory or regulatory authority to enter the workplace of H-1B and L-1 visa holders. So if you get audited, first thing to do is contact your immigration lawyer. A qualified attorney could assist you pass the audit and prevent any illegality on the side of the Government.
So our best advice to employers, keep good records for H1B employees, maintain a Public Access file for all H1B workers and follow the H1B posting requirements as required by the LCA process.
If you do get audited, take a deep breath….and call your lawyer.