IMMIGRATION SITE VISITS
Hello everyone. This week I was intending to present part 2 of my Deportation/Removal article regarding defenses to Deportation actions by Immigration, but that will have to be postponed until next week. Instead, this week I will discuss Immigration Site Visits; that is, when immigration officers appear at your house or place of employment. I know this might seem like a scary topic and no one really talks about it, but it is happening and happening more frequently as of late. I hope that by covering this topic today, we can come to expect it and not fear a site visit. If you find yourself in this position or know someone that has, please refer them to this article. I am here to assist you.
USCIS' Compliance Reviews May Include Unannounced Site Visits to Your Home!
First of all, Immigration has every right to site visits. The Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program is a part of Immigration's Compliance Review. Whenever you submit any application, petition, or request to Immigration, you are giving the government implied consent to verify the information contained in your application, petition, or request. As a means of verifying information submitted by a petitioner for a beneficiary, immigration not only can call employers, past and present, check tax records, other public records, but they can send out inspection officers to visit reported employment locations, and/or current residences.
What Do Immigration Officers Do During Site Visits?
As mentioned, in order to verify the veracity of certain claims that have been made in an application or petition, immigration may conduct site visits to your place of employment and/or place of residence. When immigration officers appear at your house or your business as mentioned, they are there to make sure that the petitioner and the beneficiary are following immigration laws applicable to the particular case. For example, if you have filed a petition to remove conditions on your 2 year conditional green card, based on marriage to a United States Citizen, the inspectors (generally two Fraud Detection and National Security officers), will most likely visit your house, and seek to verify the following:
-They will first verify your identity by requesting to see your passport, driver's license, and any other form of identification.
-They will want to verify that you and your spouse are present and truly share a common residence together as reported on your application. Not only will they show up at your front door, but they will request permission to enter your house (or apartment) so that they can take a look around. If either one of you is not present, the site inspectors will question you regarding the whereabouts of your spouse, where his/her belongings are located in the house and where yours are located. They will want to look at your bedroom, your closet, the bathroom, etc. and they will probably take pictures.
-They can talk to your neighbors, your landlord, perhaps even a postal carrier that just happens to be dropping off your mail. Basically, anyone that may be able to help them verify whether or not, you and your spouse truly live at that house.
-If neither one of you are present but a roommate, a relative, or the landlord is, the site inspectors will probably ask them some questions. These answers (including yours and/or your spouses, if available) will be noted in your "Compliance Review Report".
What Happens After the Site Visit?
Once the site visit is completed, the inspectors will return to their offices and prepare a "Compliance Review Report". This report gets turned over to the supervisors for review. Note: It is the supervisor and not the site inspectors that determine if there exists any fraud indicators. Should there be any signs of fraud, the case may be referred to USCIS/USDHS for issuance of a Notice of Intent to Deny (Note: Please see Sereechai Website or my Website at www.JC4LAW.com for previous articles regarding the Notice of Intent to Deny), or US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Should the supervisor be satisfied with the site visit and find no indication of fraud, your case will be continued along with normal processing.
Can I Refuse to Comply with Inspection Officers?
The short answer is, Yes. Because inspectors are not in possession of a warrant, nor do they have probable cause to enter, they cannot legally enter into your place of residence without your authorization and consent (or the authorization and consent of someone else that lives at your house). Although the site visit is voluntary, and you can refuse to allow the inspectors inside your house, I do not recommend that you refuse their entry. If you do that, the inspectors will end the visit and take note in the Report that the visit was terminated upon your request. Review of your case will be based on the data immigration already has. And if the site visit was conducted in order to verify some questionable information in the first place, then a refusal to cooperate will leave immigration with open questions about your case; which is not a good thing. I would advise you to fully cooperate with the inspectors.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice unless otherwise specified. All opinions expressed are those of the author and in no way shall be associated with Sereechai Newspaper. If you have a specific question regarding your personal case, please contact the Law Offices of Joseph Chitmongran for a full consultation.