USCIS Launches the Pilot of the Known Employer Program
Modeled after its Known Crewmember program for flight crews and other airline personnel that regularly pass through TSA screening checkpoints, USCIS announced the launch the pilot of the Known Employer Program. If fully implemented, the Known Employer Program would represent a shift in the way immigration law is practiced. It would streamline the adjudication of employment based immigration benefit petitions and applications. It would reduce and remove repetitive and unnecessary paperwork the current system demands employers produce.
Employers seeking employment based immigration benefits have the burden of establishing eligibility for the benefit sought. In order to meet its burden, employers must establish such basic things as their existence, the nature of their business, legitimacy of the job offered, and the qualifications of the foreign worker. To establish their existence and business, employers regularly supply USCIS with copies of their tax returns, annual reports, audited financial statements, and articles of incorporation.
Under current practice, USCIS adjudicating officers view the petition file as a closed universe. Employers wishing to hire a foreign worker submit evidence regarding all aspects of eligibility with every petition. They must include evidence proving up the existence of the employer, the nature of the employer’s business, legitimacy of the job offered, and the qualifications of the foreign worker in every petition. USCIS will not reference any material that is not in the petition file. Attorneys who regularly file petitions for their clients keep files of background information about their clients to include in every filing.
The Known Employer Program seeks to create a central database of employer information. Under this system, employers produce the background information about their company only once, during the registration process. Once the information is collected and vetted by USCIS, employers will not have to produce basic background information about their existence or business in every petition. For example, a university filing petitions on behalf of four professors will not need to include information about the existence and business of the university in all four petitions. They would simply supply USCIS with their Known Employer information, and the adjudicating officer will reference the information USCIS has on file.
Implementation of this program would represent a huge shift in the way immigration law is practiced. USCIS will run this pilot program for one year and then reassess its effectiveness.