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H-1B visa: Federal government officers coming to remote workers’ homes, Bay Area lawyer reports

Citizenship and Immigration cites work site visits as critical to program’s integrity

With the coronavirus pandemic pushing much of the U.S. into remote work, federal immigration officers are starting to make home visits to ensure that employers and foreign workers on the H-1B visa are complying with the terms of the work permits, a Bay Area immigration lawyer reports.

Companies that hire H-1B workers have typically told them that officers from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration may come to offices to confirm visa compliance, said San Francisco immigration lawyer Kelli Duehning. Now, for foreign workers already anxious over the aggressive approach to immigration and visa enforcement under President Donald Trump, home visits are likely to ratchet up the fear, said Duehning, of Berry Appleman & Leiden.

“There’s something different about an officer from the federal government coming to your workplace than coming to your home. It should be your sanctuary. And now it’s not even safe for them,” Duehning said.

The home visits appear to be a new development, with immigration officials “catching up on these new pandemic practices,” Duehning said. Employers her firm works for have reported that Citizenship and Immigration has been emailing H-1B holders to set up meetings at their homes or offices, but Duehning said she knows of a worker in Mountain View and one in Redwood City who were not contacted in advance before an immigration officer showed up at their door with questions.

“It’s all a little bit scary, especially to those folks who are not used to the process of having an officer come to your house and knock on your door and start asking questions,” she said.

Citizenship and Immigration declined to say when it started home visits, for what reasons, how many it has conducted or where. Agency spokesman Matthew Bourke said the agency’s power to conduct work site inspections to verify visa holders’ eligibility and compliance with the law “is critical to the integrity of the H–1B program to detect and deter fraud and noncompliance.” On-site inspections are only conducted at locations that employers have designated as work sites, Bourke said. Read more via SiliconValley

Pemo Theodore

Pemo Theodore is a Media Publisher and a great people connector. She was Founder Silicon Valley TV which has served the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years! She has produced Silicon Valley Events for Investors & Startups for 10 years. Pemo loves to video interview venture capitalists & founders to engage the human behind the success stories.. She has been Executive Producer of FinTech Silicon Valley for 6 years, organizing twice monthly FinTech talks & panels in San Francisco & Palo Alto and audio podcasts. She believes in learning through a great discussion with experts in the domains. Pemo has a talent to bring the right people together and is an incredible networker. Pemo's events have been seen as supporting Venture Capitalists & Angels in sourcing great deal flow from startups who attend her events. Many founders have received funding through meeting investors at her events. Her favored medium is audio & visual media and she has built up a great body of work of videos of panels & interviews and podcasts in Silicon Valley startup ecosystem. She has lived & worked in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, London, Northern Ireland & Silicon Valley. Bio

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