Kentucky Service Center Audit of Nonimmigrant Visa Petitions, Including Unannounced Telephonic Contact with EmployersAugust 30th, 2010 by
The Department of State (DOS) Visa Office announced that the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) has started to verify information submitted in nonimmigrant petitions to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through telephonic contact with employers. In November 2007, the DOS required Consular posts to verify information contained in approved nonimmigrant visa petitions through the Petition Information Management Service (PIMS). PIMS is operated by the KCC. When a nonimmigrant petition is filed with USCIS, a duplicate copy of the petition is scanned into the PIMS system so that a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad can access petition information through PIMS and the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) when the petition beneficiary applies for a visa stamp. The PIMS record is the primary proof that a nonimmigrant visa petition is approved. Additionally, the PIMS record may contain information from DOS’ Fraud Prevention Unit. It has come to the attention of the DOS that the lack of information on the petitioner in the USCIS Computer Linked Information Management System (CLAIMS) system sometimes makes a CCD record incomplete. Therefore, the DOS will be conducting its own investigation of both petitioners and beneficiaries of nonimmigrant visa petitions. To verify petitioners, the KCC will review of the company website, company contact information, and use of Google earth to confirm that an office exists in an appropriate physical location. The DOS has stated that the KCC will not normally re-verify the petitioner information for two years. To verify factual information about the beneficiary of the petition, the KCC will make random telephonic contact with the petitioning employer. The telephonic contact by KCC is unannounced and should be anticipated to occur shortly after the petition is transferred to the KCC from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The DOS has designated 15 contractors to conduct the telephonic interviews. The contractors will contact the petitioning employer, and ask to speak with an authorized representative. They will ask a series of questions including, but not limited to the following: 1. Whether the petitioner, in fact, submitted the petition; 2. When was the petitioner incorporated; 3. Where is the physical location of the petitioner; 4. Number of employees; 5. Names of shareholders; 6. Location of Attorney of Record; 7. General information regarding the petitioner’s operations and business plan. Klasko wants to remind employers of the following points for the KCC telephonic interviews: 1. Request the name of the KCC contractor and confirm the credentials of the contractor with the KCC [(606) 526-7500] prior to providing any information. 2. Contact your Klasko law attorney to advise us of the telephonic contact by the KCC contractor. 3. Do not speak with government agents or contractors without a witness present. Both the witness and the interviewee should prepare notes of what questions were asked and label them “Privileged and Confidential/Prepared at the Direction of Counsel,” and submit them to your Klasko law attorney for review and retention. 4. Retain complete copies of your I-129 petitions and supporting documents in a confidential file maintained by the designated company official for easy access during a contractor call. 5. Never guess at the answer to a question about the petition. If the employer is unsure about some requested information, the employer should indicate that he/she will follow up with the KCC contractor to provide accurate information after such information is obtained. Employers are reminded that the investigations conducted by the KCC are separate and apart from the investigations conducted by the Fraud Detection and National Security Unit (FDNS) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS will continue to conduct its own fraud investigations using the FDNS unit. FDNS conducts site visits of petitioning employers in an effort to combat fraudulent petitions. Employers are reminded to contact their Klasko law attorney if they receive a site visit from a Department of Homeland Security contractor.