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Department of State Announces it Will Begin Contacting Employers of Visa Holders

Immigration Law Update Grant Sovern, Otto W. Immel, Lisa D. Duran, Maria F. Kallmeyer

The Kentucky Consular Center ("KCC"), a division of the Department of State's ("DOS") Visa Office, has begun contacting employers by telephone to verify information in nonimmigrant visa petitions, such as H-1B and L-1 petitions.

Background

On November 17, 2007, the DOS instructed consular posts that they must verify the details of approved nonimmigrant visa petitions through the Petition Information Management Service ("PIMS"). Consular officers access the details of approved nonimmigrant visa petitions through PIMS reports, which link an approved petition to petitioner and petition information. The electronic PIMS record created by the KCC is the primary source of evidence used by consular
officers to determine nonimmigrant visa petition approval. In addition to the information submitted by the petitioner on
the Form I-129, many of the PIMS reports also contain information from DOS' Fraud Prevention Unit ("FPU"). The FPU performs research on petitioners, and as part of a pilot project, the FPU, on a random basis, verifies factual aspects related to the beneficiaries and their proposed U.S. employment.

The DOS has been in the process of creating a base petitioner record as part of the PIMS report for all first time petitioners. To create this base petitioner record, the KCC verifies petitioner information contained in the petition including, but not limited to, review of the company website, company contact information and use of Google Earth to confirm that an office exists in an appropriate physical location. Once the base petitioner record is complete, the KCC
will not normally re-verify the petitioner information for two years.

New Beneficiary Reviews

The KCC has now initiated a pilot program for verifying information related to beneficiaries and proposed U.S. employment. These checks are completed at random, primarily through telephonic contact with petitioners. The telephonic contact by the KCC is unannounced and will likely occur shortly after the petition is approved, when the KCC receives the record.

The KCC has hired contractors to conduct the telephonic interviews. These contractors are authorized to contact the petitioner (employer) and may request to speak to an authorized official at the company. They will then ask a series of questions verifying certain information contained in the approved nonimmigrant visa petitions. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. whether the petitioner, in fact, submitted the petition;
  2. when was the petitioner incorporated;
  3. where was the physical location of the petitioner;
  4. the number of employees;
  5. names of shareholders;
  6. the location of attorney of record who filed the visa petition;
  7. general information regarding the petitioner's operations and business plan; and
  8. information regarding the beneficiary's (employee's) job description, location and educational background.

If you receive one of these phone calls, please answer the questions honestly, request the name of the contractor and
the agency they have contracted with, and contact your Quarles & Brady immigration attorney immediately. If the KCC contractor asks for information that you cannot provide accurately without further research, please indicate this to the contractor rather than providing an estimate or an educated guess.

For more information on these KCC audits or any other immigration issue, please contact a member of our Quarles & Brady Immigration Team, Maria Kallmeyer (Chicago) at (312) 715-5009 / maria.kallmeyer@quarles.com, Grant Sovern (Madison) at (608) 283-2668 / grant.sovern@quarles.com, Lisa Duran (Phoenix) at (602) 229-5225 / lisa.duran@quarles.com or Otto Immel (Naples/Tampa) at (239) 659-5041 / otto.immel@quarles.com.