OIG Report Recommends Changes to H-1B Site Visit Program


A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General recommends changes to the H-1B site visit program, which USCIS says it has already begun to implement.

The OIG report highlights that between Fiscal Years 2014 and 2016, Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate ("FDNS") officers only conducted site visits for approximately three percent of all approved H-1B petitions. Additionally, the report notes most site visits only seek to verify basic information, such as whether H-1B holders are employed by their petitioners and if their work locations and wages are consistent with their approved petitions. The OIG also criticized USCIS' record-keeping, noting that it does not systemically track site visits. Furthermore, it pointed out that past Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program ("ASVVP") site visits have not differentiated between low-risk and high-risk petitioners. Lastly, the OIG report claims USCIS "does not promptly take action and report resolution when H-1B ASVVP site visits identify potential fraud or noncompliance," highlighting the fact that the revocation process for unverified site visits averaged 339 days from the time FDNS referred the site visit to USCIS. Based on its findings, the OIG made the following recommendations to USCIS:

• Develop a process for collecting and analyzing complete and accurate data for all site visits;
• Identify data and assessments obtained through site visit programs post-adjudication and implement measures to systematically share that information with external stakeholders;
• Assess the ASVVP program, including how to enhance random sampling procedures to prioritize recurring violators; and
• Develop comprehensive policies to ensure adjudicative action is prioritized on fraudulent or noncompliant immigration benefits.

USCIS not only concurred with the OIG's recommendations, but detailed how it is already implementing initiatives to respond to them. Specifically, USCIS noted it plans to expand its targeted site visit program to include additional risk-based criteria by March 31, 2018. USCIS also plans to increase the number of ASVVP site visits up to 10,000 annually. The ASVVP target, combined with USCIS' plan to perform 10,000 annual targeted site visits, makes USCIS' goal conducting a total of 20,000 site visits per year. The report also states that USCIS has called for closer coordination among the Departments of Justice, Labor, and State in sharing information on H-1B program violations and petitioners that have been identified or are being investigated for fraudulent practices.

Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.