Known Employer Pilot
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has created the Known Employer pilot to assess a way to streamline the process for employers seeking to hire certain workers through employment-based visa categories. By modifying the process by which USCIS reviews an employer’s eligibility to sponsor individuals under certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa classifications, the Known Employer pilot is expected to reduce paperwork, costs and delays in processing these benefit requests.
In January 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson announced that DHS would explore a Known Employer pilot under the United States-Canada Beyond the Border initiative. The pilot was also highlighted as a recommendation in a report from federal agencies submitted to the President in July 2015, Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century (PDF) . The pilot will generally be available regardless of any worker’s country of origin.
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 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. The goals of the Known Employer pilot are to:
- Reduce the amount of paperwork filed by employers and retained by USCIS;
- Promote consistency in the adjudication of employment-based petitions and applications;
- Streamline the adjudicative process to achieve greater efficiency within USCIS; and
- Provide greater support to our partners at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Department of State (DOS), leading to greater efficiency and consistency at ports of entry and consular posts.
Currently, USCIS officers adjudicate employment-based petitions and applications by analyzing, among other things, the:
- Bona fides of the employer’s business;
- Nature of the job offer;
- Job requirements; and
- Beneficiary’s qualifications.
Generally, employers must submit the same information about their organization with each petition or application filed with USCIS. Because each petition or application must stand on its own merits, USCIS officers often issue a Request for Evidence for the same documents that the employer has already submitted in connection with another petition or application.
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 requirements that have been with each individual petition or application. USCIS will defer to the approved predetermination unless we find 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 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, the following five employers have confirmed their participation in the pilot:
- Citigroup, Inc.
- Ernst & Young LLP
- Kiewit Corporation
- Schaeffler Group USA, Inc.
- Siemens Corporation
This list will be updated if and when additional participants join 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
- 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
- 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 and, if the project is successful, seek to institute a permanent program open to all eligible employers.