Site Visit Expansion to Certain L1A Petition Extensions

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hosted a teleconference on April 24, 2014, to discuss the coming expansion of the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP) to include certain L1A petitions. The ASVVP program, which began in July 2009, is designed to verify immigration compliance by having the USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Directorate conduct unannounced site visits at worksites listed in immigration petitions. The program has been focusing on H1B cases, but will soon be broadening its reach by also conducting site visits for new office L1A extension requests.

Inspector General’s Report

In August 2013, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General (OIG), issued a report on the implementation of regulations for the L-1, intracompany transferee category. The report recommended that the USCIS conduct mandatory site visits prior to approving petitions requesting extensions for L1A “new office” cases. A more detailed discussion of this report is available in the MurthyDotCom NewsBriefs, DHS Report Points Out Flaws in L-1 Program, Part 1 (18.Oct.2013) and Part 2 (28.Oct.2013).

Site Inspection Process

Immigration officers specially trained to conduct FDNS site visits will conduct all L1A company reviews. The USCIS will no longer use contractors to conduct ASVVP reviews. Petitions are randomly selected for ASVVP review, and site visits are to be conducted at the work location indicated on the petition.

As part of the compliance review process, the FDNS site inspector will investigate whether the petitioning employer and foreign national beneficiary are available, cooperative, and forthcoming with information. The site inspector will check whether the parties have knowledge of the petition contents and whether the company is in compliance with the terms specified in said petition. The inspector may also ask to review certain documents, such as the beneficiary’s recent paystubs. The FDNS will then use this information to determine whether the ASVVP review is verified or not verified. A “not verified” finding will likely lead the USCIS to take further action, such as issuance of a request for evidence (RFE) or notice of intent to revoke (NOIR).

Participation in Review is Voluntary

Participation in the ASVVP review is completely voluntary, and the site inspector is supposed to end the visit immediately if the petitioner or beneficiary verbally indicates an unwillingness to participate. However, failure to provide the requested information will presumably result in a finding of not verified.

Expect Further Expansion of ASVVP for Other Types of L-1 Cases

As mentioned above, the program initially will focus on new office L1A petitions that request extensions of stay. The USCIS representatives indicated, though, that the program may be extended to other types of L-1 cases in the future, such as L1B petitions and standard L1A extension requests.

Be Prepared and Obtain Legal Counsel

The USCIS representatives did not indicate exactly when the ASVVP reviews would begin for L1A petitions. In the meantime, companies who may be subject to such reviews should begin preparing for site visits. Companies with concerns, that would like to seek help with preparations for as smooth a site visit as possible, are encouraged to sign up for the Murthy Law Firm premium teleconference, Best Practices: H1B & I-9 Compliance & Investigations.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.