USCIS Launches Known Employer Pilot for Preselected Employers

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has created the Known Employer pilot, which is only limited to nine preselected employers and is not available to other employers yet. The pilot seeks to assess a way to streamline the process for employers seeking to hire certain workers through employment-based visa categories. DHS expects the Known Employer pilot to reduce paperwork, costs and delays in processing these benefit requests. If the pilot is successful, DHS will consider instituting a permanent program open to all eligible employers.

The pilot will assess the long-term feasibility of a new adjudicative process. Centered on a Web-based document library, the process allows participating employers to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) review and predetermine whether a prospective employer has satisfied certain eligibility requirements for the select visa classifications before petitioning or applying for individual employees. The pilot is scheduled to last for one year; however, USCIS may, in its discretion, terminate or extend the pilot at any time.

Under the Known Employer pilot, employers will file an application to request that USCIS predetermine certain requirements of select immigrant and nonimmigrant visa classifications that relate to the employer itself. These requirements generally relate to the employer’s corporate structure, operations and financial health. When making this request, employers will create a profile in the Web-based Known Employer Document Library (KEDL), and upload documents related to the requirements. Participating employers will also complete and upload Form I-950, Application for Predetermination under Known Employer Program. USCIS officers will then review the documents and predetermine whether the employer has satisfied certain requirements for each classification requested.

If USCIS approves the employer’s predetermination request, the employer may then file petitions or applications for individual employees without needing to resubmit evidence with respect to any employer-related requirements that have already been established through the predetermination process. USCIS will defer to the approved predetermination unless it finds that:

  • There was a material error in the predetermination approval;
  • A substantial change in circumstances has taken place that would require revisiting the predetermination; or
  • There is new material information that adversely affects the validity of USCIS’ predetermination.

This pilot process means that in adjudicating an individual petition or application, a USCIS officer will not need to review those approved employer eligibility requirements unless the facts have changed since the time USCIS made its predetermination or there are indications of fraud or material misrepresentation. Instead, the officer will only have to decide on the remaining requirements of an individual petition or application, such as the nature of the job offered and the employee’s qualifications. The documents uploaded to the KEDL will be available for review by CBP and DOS officers in support of their own adjudications.

DHS and DOS collaborated to preselect up to nine employers only of different sizes and from various industries and locations to participate in the pilot with the goal of providing the best possible assessment.

As of the launch date of March 3, 2016, five employers have confirmed their participation in the pilot.

Immigrant Classifications Included in Known Employer

The following employment-based immigrant classifications are the only ones included in the Known Employer pilot:

  • E12, outstanding professor or researcher; and
  • E13, multinational executive or manager.

Nonimmigrant Classifications Included in Known Employer

The following employment-based nonimmigrant classifications are the only ones included in the Known Employer pilot:

  • H-1B, specialty occupation worker;
  • L-1A, intracompany transferee in a managerial or executive capacity;
  • L-1B, intracompany transferee in a position involving specialized knowledge; and
  • TN, Canadian and Mexican citizens engaged in business activities at a professional level under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

After completing the pilot, DHS plans to publicly announce the results. If the project is successful, DHS may seek to institute a permanent program open to all eligible employers.

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