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DHS Launches New “Known Employer Pilot Program”

196716_files.jpgThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is constantly striving to implement programs that improve the speed and efficiency of immigration-related procedures. Its newest initiative, unveiled earlier this week, is called the Known Employer Pilot Program (KEPP), and DHS officials are hopeful that this program will assist employers during the foreign worker sponsorship process.

The Known Employer Pilot Program

The purpose of the KEPP is to provide employers with a better way to streamline their employment-based immigration process. This program will be particularly useful to those employers who file multiple immigration applications every year. The crux of the program focuses on modifications and changes to how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews and adjudicates certain types of applications. DHS officials are hopeful that the full implementation of the KEPP will result in improved consistency in application adjudications, as well as significant reductions in costs, paperwork, and adjudication delays or mistakes.

The Current Review Process

USCIS adjudication officers currently examine several aspects of an employer’s application, such as the nature of the job offered to the foreign worker, the nature of the employer’s business or services, the offered job’s requirements, and the foreign worker’s qualifications. Right now, an employer is required to submit the same documentation pertaining to their business (such as licenses, tax returns, etc.) for each application it submits to USCIS, even though this documentation clearly does not change from one application to another in the same year.

Changes Proposed Under KEPP

The KEPP will allow employers to file a predetermination request application with USCIS in order to have USCIS recognize and basically pre-approve that the employer meets a number of the requirements for various immigrant and nonimmigrant worker classifications. The USCIS approval of the application will recognize that the employer meets the business-related aspects of the immigration process, such as the needed corporate structure and financial state. Therefore, the employer will be exempt from submitting proof of these necessities in every subsequent application it makes with USCIS.

In order to make the request, the employer will need to create a user profile on the USCIS Known Employer Document Library and upload documents to the website. One of the documents the employer will need to upload is a completed Form I-950 Application for Predetermination Under Known Employer Program. USCIS will review the Form I-950 to ensure the employer qualifies for the KEPP benefits.

Test Employers

The DHS and the Department of State teamed together to identify employers to participate in the pilot program before the initiative is launched to the public at large. These employers will be able to submit Form I-950 applications for pre-approval for certain business visas and for H-1B petitions, L-1A and L-1B petitions, and TN nonimmigrant petitions.

Once the pilot ends, the employers will provide their feedback on their experience to DHS. If the program is deemed a success, DHS will make plans to implement a permanent program that will be open to all employers and for more immigration classifications.

The Rant

It is about time! Hopefully the Pilot Program works and allows for employers who regularly use the services of our government to avoid unnecessary and repetitive disclosures of information. USCIS refers to petitioners and applicants as “Customers”. In the real world, customers who repeatedly visit a business, provide information to the business, and have a relationship of years of working together are not treated as a “first time customer” each and every time they visit the business.

Our firm has seen this too often! We have literally had a client who is a multi-billion dollar company with 30,000 employees, filing between 30 and 35 new H-1B petitions every year, and 80 to 100 H-1B extensions, receive a Request for Evidence demanding a lease agreement for its building to document its existence. The fact that the business was a publicly-traded entity on the NYSE and owns its campus (as well as 1,000 retail establishments across the world) outright should give some indication that the company is real, so we were able to document what was necessary… But let’s stop the foolishness!

Additional Blog Posts

The Possible Impact of Sequestration for Employers and Immigrant Workers, ImmigRantings, April 22, 2013
More States Expected to Exert Control Regarding Illegal Immigration Problems, ImmigRantings, August 3, 2013