Employers pay a $500 anti-fraud fee as part of each H-1B petition. This fee has been used recently by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to hire contractors to perform site visits to petitioning entities to check the status of workers. One such visit has been recounted to practitioners in the field as a warning of what’s to come.
An investigator phoned the H-1B employer and asked for the company’s attorney who was not available. The lawyer called the investigator back who told him that he is a federally certified private investigator doing background checks on government employees for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Fraud Detection Program. He stated that these types of visits are usually undergone without warning.
The crux of this investigation revolved around the investigator’s concerns about the attorney signing an H-1B petition for the employer (note: this is actually untrue – the attorney signed as the attorney only). Two items were of interest to the investigator. First, whether the company was a operating business and second, whether the employee/beneficiary was a legitimate worker. He was investigating for two kinds of fraud: a worker who lies on a petition, claiming to work for an employer that he doesn’t work for and/or an employer lying on a petition. He wanted to meet with HR to confirm the employee’s information and also wanted photos of the entity to prove it exists. The investigator mentioned that 28 cities will be targeted with investigations and that this employer was randomly selected. If anything is uncovered in the investigation, the information will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or DHS.