The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has begun verifying information contained in nonimmigrant visa petitions (NIV petitions such as H-1B, L-1, O-1) at its Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), according to published reports. Specifically, KCC contractors have begun verifying information regarding employer petitioners through various sources (e.g., a company’s website) and directly calling employers to verify basic information contained in approved petitions. The new initiative is just the latest step in government reviews/audits of employers that sponsor foreign nationals for employment. DOS previously instructed visa-issuing consulates to verify details of approved NIV petitions through the Petition Information Management Systems (PIMS) via the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD).
The series of employer reviews being conducted by various government agencies involved in immigration processes over the past few years include:
- PIMS checks by DOS which caused delays in visa processing (see the May 15, 2008 Immigration Update;
- H-1B and L-1 site visits conducted by the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security within the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), see the October 2009 issue of the Immigration eAuthority; and
- Department of Labor (DOL) reviews of H-2B employers, particularly those in the hospitality industry (see pages 4 through 6 of the Summer 2010 issue of the Hospitality eAuthority).
Employers that sponsor foreign workers thus need to be mindful of designating an appropriate individual to execute immigration petitions as that individual is likely the one to be contacted in the event of a follow-up by USCIS, DOL or DOS. Such designated individuals should keep a copy of petitions filed readily available and carefully answer questions posed by government personnel. Upon receiving a call, counsel might well be contacted for advice, though practically speaking there may not be time to do so. Most of all, contacted employer representatives should avoid factual inconsistencies and should never attempt to answer questions to which they do not know the answer.