FDNS Site Visits: Be Prepared and Proactive!

By Chris Generous, Sumner Immigration Law Attorney

FDNS site visits happen! If you are an employer who has filed a nonimmigrant visa petition for an R-1 (religious worker), or an H-1B or L-1 petition, you and your employees should be prepared for site visits from government officers. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts administrative inquiries via its Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Directorate. FDNS uses compliance reviews and fraud assessments to deter and discover fraud. While these have been in play for quite some time, USCIS is stepping up its efforts in this area under the current presidential administration. Here are some tips for how to handle an FDNS site visit.

What to Expect

  • Site visits are typically brief and unannounced
  • The FDNS officer may ask about:
    • the employer’s existence,
    • the validity of information in the petition,
    • the address and location of worksites,
    • how the employer supervises the employee,
    • the employee’s compensation, titles, job duties, and the terms and conditions of employment, and
    • other aspects of compliance with the terms of the approved petition;
  • The Officer may ask to:
    • take photos,
    • interview personnel, including the signatory or the beneficiary of the petition,
    • review supporting documentation (such as pay stubs, W-2s, and HR records)

How to Prepare

  • Notify relevant personnel of the possibility of a site visit - this means letting the foreign national employee know it may happen, but also letting other workers who work at the same work-site know, including supervisors and other colleagues
  • Develop policies and procedures for handling an FDNS inspection and train relevant personnel
  • Ensure accurate information is provided in petitions
  • Ensure records of filings are maintained and accessible by relevant personnel
  • Stay up-to-date on changes in work-sites, job duties, and other material information, and amend petitions as needed;

When FDNS Visits

If an employer receives a visit from FDNS, the employer’s personnel should:

  • Contact their immigration attorney as soon as possible
  • Ask and record credentials of the FDNS Officer (i.e., name, title, contact information)
  • Write a detailed description of the site visit
  • Provide only accurate information to the FDNS Officer and avoid guessing
  • Ask for additional time to respond if time is needed to research or verify an answer
  • If follow-up is needed, be alert for emails or phone calls from the FDNS Officer
  • Respond timely to the officers requests after consulting with your attorney

Please note, for criminal or other major fraud inquiries, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Inspector General (DHS-OIG) may be involved in investigations and site visits.

We are dedicated to continuing to represent employers, employees, families, and individuals in this challenging immigration environment. If you need assistance, please contact us today via email at info@sumnerimmigration.com, or by calling our office at 804-396-3412. We are immigration lawyers based in Richmond, VA, but serve clients across the country.