Workplace Visits by Immigration Authorities
If you're in the U.S. on a work visa, immigration or DHS officials may visit your place of employment to ensure all federal regulations are being followed.
When an employee is in the United States on a work visa, both the immigrant and the employer must follow federal requirements to maintain proper visa status. Workplace visits may occur as part of the visa application process or later on after an employee has moved to America to begin working.
About Work Visas
The United States government allows employers to hire citizens of foreign countries to come in and assume working roles under certain circumstances. When an American citizen isn’t available for a position, but a foreign citizen qualifies, a work visa may be granted. Employers and potential employees both will have to petition for the issuance of a work visa.
There are several types of work visas, which require a different application process. They include:
Visas for temporary workers – This type of visa enables a non-immigrant to assume an employee role within the United States for a short-term period of time. Temporary workers and their employers must file a non-immigration permit to receive this type of visa.
Permanent workers – Also known as a "green card," this type of work visa is often applied for when the working circumstance will be permanent and the immigrant intends to stay in America, perhaps even seeking citizenship. In this case, both the employee and the employer will have to file paperwork. The employer will also have to complete a labor certification process.
(For more on the options available, see Types of U.S. Work Visas.)
Federal authorities retain the right to visit a workplace that has employees in the country on visa status. Workplace visits are not necessarily performed to "check up" on the workers, per se, but to ensure that federal regulations for visa-status employment are being followed. In many cases, a workplace visit will involve a review of an employer’s paperwork to ensure that the employer is following federal guidelines in regard to wages, working conditions and working hours. Verification of employment for the visa holder will also likely take place.
When a work visa has been granted on behalf of an employer and employee(s), authorities can perform periodic checks if they so desire. Unannounced visits are not out of the question, but authorities are not allowed to harass workers or employers. They are authorized to simply make sure federal regulations are being followed by those on visa status and the employers who sponsor them.
When to Get Legal Advice
DHS work visa status enables employers to bring in foreign talent when it is necessary for getting a job done. The immigration and visa process, however, is complex. It is often advised that employers or potential immigrants seek legal advice throughout the process to ensure that all regulations are met.