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DHS Launches ‘Known Employer’ Pilot


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on March 3, 2016, a “Known Employer” pilot to assess a new process for employers seeking to hire certain workers through employment-based visa categories. 

By modifying the process U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses to review an employer’s eligibility to sponsor individuals under certain employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant classifications, the Known Employer pilot is expected to reduce paperwork, costs, and delays in the processing of these benefit requests. USCIS will oversee the pilot in collaboration with the DHS Office of Policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Department of State (DOS). 

“Today, we’re partnering with a select group of representative organizations across a variety of industries to determine how we can improve efficiency and cut costs. If successful, we will continue to build on this trial program and promote robust trade, travel, and economic prosperity,” said USCIS Director León Rodríguez. 

The goals of the Known Employer pilot are to make the employment eligibility adjudication process more efficient and reduce delays for U.S. employers that wish to employ foreign workers under certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs by: 

  • Reducing the amount of paperwork filed by employers and retained by USCIS; 
  • Promoting consistency in the adjudication of employment-based petitions and applications; 
  • Streamlining the adjudicative process to achieve greater efficiency within USCIS; and 
  • Providing greater support to CBP and DOS in support of greater efficiency and consistency at ports of entry and consular posts. 

According to reports, five employers had confirmed their participation in the pilot as of the launch date: Citigroup, Inc.; Ernst & Young LLP; Kiewit Corporation; Schaeffler Group USA Inc.; and Siemens Corp. 

Under the Known Employer pilot, up to nine preselected employers will file applications requesting that USCIS predetermine that they meet certain requirements relating to certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa classifications. When making this request, employers will create a profile in the Web-based Known Employer Document Library (KEDL), and upload documents relating to the requirements. USCIS officers will review and predetermine whether a prospective employer has met certain requirements relating to the visa classifications. If USCIS approves the employer’s predetermination request, the employer may then file petitions or applications for individual employees without needing to resubmit company information with each petition or application. 

Reportedly, immigrant classifications included in the Known Employer pilot are E-12 (outstanding professor or researcher) and E-13 (multinational executive or manager). Nonimmigrant classifications included in the pilot are 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 (Trade NAFTA: Canadian and Mexican citizens engaged in business activities at a professional level under the North American Free Trade Agreement). 

Employers will not be charged any additional fees to participate in the Known Employer pilot. The pilot is scheduled to last for up to one year. However, USCIS may terminate or extend the pilot at any time. DHS and DOS will solicit ongoing feedback from participants. If the pilot is successful, DHS is expected to seek permanency for the program and open it to all eligible employers. 

DHS first announced in January 2015 that it would explore a Known Employer pilot under the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border initiative. The pilot also was recommended in a report from federal agencies submitted to President Obama in July 2015, “Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century.” DHS’s announcement is at https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/03/03/dhs-launches-known-employer-pilot-program. See also the Known Employer Pilot page at https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/known-employer-pilot.

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