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Iowa Immigration Law Blog: L-1 Visa Inspections Have Begun - August 4, 2014

The Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) unit of USCIS has begun inspecting L-1 visa holders as planned.  FDNS has inspected (and likely is continuing to inspect) H-1B holders for several years. L-1s are the latest target.

FDNS is concerned that the information submitted to USCIS is accurate and is focused on detecting fraud in applications for immigration benefits.

An FDNS examiner will come to the work site listed in the I-129 filing and ask to speak with the L-1 visa holder.  Questions that are asked include:

  • What is your job title?
  • What is your salary?
  • What is your length of service?
  • Do you have direct reports? If so, what is their education level?
  • Who do you report to?
  • Have you paid for any of the filing fees or attorneys fees in conjunction with the L-1 application?
  • Have you filed for permanent residence (I-140)?
  • Has there been any discussion of such filing?
  • Is any other application pending with USCIS?
  • What is your current residence?
  • What is your marital status?
  • What is your email address?
  • Have you been in the U.S. in any other status before, including visitor?

The officer will also give a written request for information to be completed in a certain period of time and returned.

What should you do when an FDNS officer arrives?

We recommend that no one speak with FDNS (other than a general greeting) without an attorney present or on the phone.  You can politely say that it is a company policy and offer to call the attorney at that time.  You can offer to set up another time if the attorney is not available. You have a right to counsel that the government cannot refuse to recognize.  You have no obligation to speak to a government agent without counsel present.

Before answering questions, we advise that you review the I-129 and exhibits and note any changes so you can point them out in your answers.

Before submitting information to the government, we also advise that you consult your counsel or have counsel prepare the response directly.

If you choose to speak to the FDNS officer without counsel – which we do not recommend – be sure to ask for clarification if you do not understand the questions and say, “I don’t know” if you don’t know.  

Although usually FDNS inspections are brief encounters and although you have nothing to hide, miscommunications can result from these inspections.  If they do, USCIS can issue an intent to revoke the status, which can be costly to remedy, or could take stronger actions if fraud is suspected.

This is truly a situation in which an ounce of prevention (some attorney fees) is worth a pound of cure (more attorney fees).