Monday, September 2, 2013

DHS Inspector General Report for FB and L1 category

USCIS Tracking & Monitoring of Potentially Fraudulent Petitions and Applications for Family-Based Immigration Benefits 

In the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) oversees lawful immigration to the United States. U.S. immigration law grants permanent resident status to aliens who legally marry a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and to certain aliens who are family members of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Immigration benefits may lead to the right to apply for and receive Social Security and Medicare benefits and food stamps, and the opportunity to sponsor alien spouses and relatives for permanent residency.

We performed this audit to determine whether USCIS recorded information about adjudicated family-based petitions and applications suspected of being fraudulent according to agency policy requirements and in a manner that deterred immigration fraud.

U.S.citizens or lawful permanent residents who petition to sponsor a qualifying family member, including a spouse, must file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with USCIS.  USCIS officers adjudicate I-130 petitions at field offices or service centers. Through the I-130 adjudication process, USCIS must validate that the petitioner is a U.S.citizen or lawful permanent resident. When the petitioner is sponsoring an alien spouse, the petitioner must establish that the marriage is valid. For petitioners sponsoring relatives, USCIS must determine the validity of the relationship before approving the I-130 petition.

Approval of I-130 petition grants an alien immediate relative already residing in the United States the ability to apply for permanent residence by filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence for Adjust Status (Form I-485). An alien spouse or alien immediate relative who has an approved I-130 petition and is residing outside the United States may apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for an immigrant visa to live in the United States. USCIS offices process all I-130 petitions and I-485 applications filed concurrently.

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Implementation of L-1 Visa Regulations

Senator Charles Grassley requested that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General examine the potential for fraud or abuse in the L-1 intracompany transferee visa program. The L-1 visa program facilitates the temporary transfer of foreign nationals with management, professional, and specialist skills to the United States.

Through domestic and international fieldwork, we observed DHS personnel and Department of State consular officials process L-1 petitions and visas. We also interviewed 71 managers and staff in DHS and the Department of State.

Although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regulations and headquarters memorandums provide guidance regarding the definition of specialized knowledge, they are insufficient to ensure consistent application of L-1 visa program requirements in processing visas and petitions. More communication between DHS and the Department of State would improve the processing of blanket petitions. We determined that program effectiveness would be improved and risks reduced with additional effort in

(1) training for Customs and Border Protection Officers that will enable them to fill their L-1 gatekeeper role at the northern land border more effectively,
(2) improving internal controls of the fee collection effort at the northern land border,
(3) more rigorous consideration of new office petitions to reduce fraud and abuse,
(4) providing an adjudicative tool that is accessible to all Federal personnel responsible for L-1 decisions, and
(5) consistently applying Visa Reform Act anti-“job-shop” provisions to L-1 petitions.

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