FDNS Visits Employer Worksites to Deter Fraud and Ensure Immigration Compliance
Immigration Update 10/07/09 Lisa D. Duran
Employers that hire foreign national employees on a non-immigrant (e.g. H-1B, L-1, etc.) or permanent basis must be prepared for the possibility of an unannounced visit from the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security and Records Verification (FDNS).
FDNS, a division of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is rapidly expanding its visitation of employer worksites in an effort to deter fraud and to ensure employer compliance with immigration program requirements. An increasing number of FDNS site visits are occurring with regard to immigration petitions and applications already approved by USCIS. So, there is no reason for an employer to believe that a visit will not occur because its application or petition has already been approved. In addition to FDNS' site visit program, the Department of Labor (DOL) appears to have joined in increased efforts to deter fraud and increase program compliance by sending its own extensive questionnaire to some foreign workers to see if their current or previous H-1B employers have violated H-1B regulations.
Legitimate employers should not be deterred from hiring and working with foreign national employees under this increased government scrutiny. However, every employer should be prepared for a possible visit from FDNS. The government's intentions are clear - there will continue to be more worksite investigations and increased data mining of employers that file petitions and applications for employment-based immigration benefits.
The attached article, authored by Ben Kurten and Lisa Duran of Quarles & Brady, and originally published nationally online by the Society of Human Resource Management, provides employers with a helpful overview of the history behind why FDNS site visits are increasing and what their objectives are, possible triggers for site visits and suggestions for how employers should prepare themselves for an FDNS site visit.