California Labor &
Employment Law Blog
Mar 7, 2016

USCIS Launches the Pilot of the Known Employer Program

Topics: Immigration

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.  

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For over 25 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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