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Showing Up Without Warrant or Warning: Federal Officials Visit Employers That Hire Foreign Workers

Connecticut Law Tribune

October 26, 2009

Authors: Brenda A. Eckert

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that its Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) has begun an audit of employer compliance with H-1B non-immigrant visa requirements.

As part of the audit process, FDNS will conduct site visits at employers who file or have previously approved H-1B petitions, which allow businesses to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

While FDNS reportedly has conducted such audits on employers who sponsor various other non-immigrant visas, this new initiative targets employers sponsoring professional workers for the H-1B visa. These site visits are unannounced and, according to FDNS, do not require a subpoena or warrant for the investigators to enter and examine an employer’s premises.

Connecticut has not yet experienced the disruptions of mass raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on employers who hire and retain unauthorized workers. However, the USCIS Vermont Service Center, which has jurisdiction over H-1B petitions for workers in Connecticut and surrounding states, reportedly has referred approximately 20,000 H-1B cases to the fraud detection office as part of the audit program. Connecticut has its fair share of H-1B workers. Therefore, out of the estimated 20,000 cases reportedly referred to the FDNS, it is a safe bet that at least some of the targeted H-1B employers that can expect an unannounced site visit are located in Connecticut.

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