March 08, 2016

DHS Tests Known Employer Program for Certain Immigration Petitions

On March 3, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a pilot program intended to streamline the employment-based immigration process in certain visa categories. The program will modify the process U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses to review an employer’s eligibility to sponsor employees and is expected to reduce cost, paperwork and make the process more efficient. This pilot was one of the recommendations included in the July 2015 report: Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century. Up to nine pre-selected employers will participate in the pilot.

Under the current process, USCIS reviews employment-based petitions by analyzing company information, job information and the beneficiary's qualifications. In most cases, the employer must include the same information about the company in each petition filed with USCIS. Under the Known Employer program, employers would file an application to "predetermine certain requirements of select immigrant and nonimmigrant visa classifications that relate to the employer itself." Requirements outlined in the pilot refer to a company's corporate structure and financial health. Employers would submit an application through the Known Employer Document Library (KEDL) and would complete a Form I-950, Application for Predetermination under Known Employer Program. If approved, employers can file petitions without having to resubmit evidence about the company. Employers have used a similar process for years with L-1 Blanket petitions filed with a U.S. Consulate.

The pilot program will include the following employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant classifications:

  • E12, outstanding professor or researcher
  • E13, multinational executive or manager
  • 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)

The program is expected to reduce the amount of paperwork filed by employers and kept by USCIS; promote consistency in adjudication; and achieve greater efficiency within USCIS and with adjudications at ports of entry and consular posts. The pilot is scheduled to last for up to one year, but can be terminated or extended at any time. If successful, DHS will institute a permanent program open to all eligible employers.

Additional information about the program can be found on the Known Employer pilot page. Employers can send comments, suggestions and questions about the program by emailing USCIS-IGAOutreach@uscis.dhs.gov.

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