DHS Launches Known Employer Pilot

Author: Rena Pirsos, XpertHR Legal Editor

May 10, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the launch of its Known Employer pilot, which will assess the long-term feasibility of a new employer process for hiring certain foreign workers through employment-based visa categories. The pilot modifies the current process used by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review an employer's eligibility to sponsor individuals under certain employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant classifications. The ultimate goal of the pilot is to reduce paperwork, costs and delays in processing employer requests.

USCIS Director León Rodríguez commented that the agency is "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." USCIS will oversee the pilot in collaboration with the DHS Office of Policy, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the US Department of State (DOS).

A maximum of nine employers will be selected to participate in the pilot. As of March 3, five employers have confirmed their participation. These employers will file applications requesting USCIS to predetermine that they meet certain requirements relating to certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa classifications. The participants will have to create a profile in the web-based Known Employer Document Library (KEDL), and upload documents relating to the requirements.

USCIS officers will review the documents and predetermine whether the employer has met certain requirements for each requested visa classification. Approved employers may then file petitions or applications for individual employees without having to resubmit company information with each petition or application, unless information has changed or there is evidence of fraud.

Two employment-based immigrant classifications are included in the pilot:

  • E12, outstanding professor or researcher; and
  • E13, multinational executive or manager.

Four nonimmigrant classifications are also included:

  • 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, Canadian and Mexican citizens engaged in business activities at a professional level under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The pilot is scheduled to last for up to one year, but USCIS may choose to terminate it or extend it at any time. Once the pilot ends, DHS will publicly announce the results. If the pilot proves successful, the agency will implement a permanent program that will be available to all eligible employers.