USCIS Site-Visits: Officers Visiting H-1B Workers’ Homes During Pandemic
With the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing, and a national emergency declared in the U.S. by March 2020, most workers have been working remotely, from home ever since. This includes foreign workers on H1-B and L1 visas. While many regulations have been relaxed during the pandemic, one thing that remains constant are the site visits made by US immigration officers – this time at home!
Under the Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program (ASVVP), USCIS officials can visit work locations to verify certain regulations about employing a foreign worker on a non-immigrant visa. This may include adherence to presence onsite, meeting minimum salary requirements, employees’ job duties, and work-hours. This should have details of the work broken up to reflect percentage distribution of time applied to each task. Since many employees now, including visa workers are working remotely, from home, these site visits are being conducted at their home locations.
In order to ensure that foreign employees are complying with H1B visa rules and maintaining the integrity of the H1-B visa program, USCIS will be conducting random site-visits at home.
What You Should Know About USCIS Site Visits At Home
- US immigration officers have always conducted these site visits at the work locations. However, since workers are working remotely now, they making home visits a routine procedure.
- While visits at work locations were conducted randomly without notice, USCIS has been emailing H1B visa holders to arrange these home visits prior to coming by. But you can expect unannounced, surprise visits as well.
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- All employers are obligated to disclose the worksite for each foreigner worker on a work visa. While this rule was relaxed during the pandemic, USCIS can still expect the remote work location details for all foreign workers from their employers. Employees have to designate their homes as work sites for the temporary period.
- Some US immigration officers are also conducting “virtual site visits” and a questionnaire is offered via email or by phone. All workers should first verify the identity of the person they are corresponding with before releasing any personal information.
- Home site visits for family-based immigration is a routine procedure and no changes are expected
What You May Be Asked During A USCIS Site Visit At Home
According to Matthew Bourke, a spokesperson for USCIS, “The agency’s power to conduct worksite inspections to verify visa holders’ eligibility and compliance with the law is critical to the integrity of the H1B program to detect and deter fraud and noncompliance.”
- Since the main purpose is to identify and evaluate fraudulent petitioners, all H1-B documentation should be compliant and valid.
- Anyone requiring responses to Request for Evidences (RFEs) should have receipts reflecting action taken, extensions applied for and all current paperwork up-to-date.
- Employers with pending petitions like adjustment of status or H1-B extension among its employers should be extra vigilant.
- All documentation pertaining to employees’ job duties, work-hours broken up to reflect percentage distribution of time applied to each task, work location and salary should be readily made available.
- Employers should educate their employees as to which of their personal documents come under the orbit of such inspections.
- All workers should have a copy of any official document that point out that due to the pandemic’s social distancing, employer has sought for home as a temporary worksite.
- Workers may have to post their current LCA at their home site location for easy viewing of the US immigration officer.