DHS Launches "Known Employer" Pilot Program

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the launch of a Known Employer Pilot Program to allow the agency to assess a new process for employers seeking to hire certain workers through employment-based visa categories.

The pilot would modify the process U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses to reviews an employer’s eligibility to sponsor individuals under certain employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant classifications, in order to reduce paperwork, costs, and delays in the processing of these requests. USCIS announced that it will oversee the pilot in collaboration with the DHS Office of Policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

The stated goals of the Known Employer pilot are to make the employment eligibility adjudication process more efficient for U.S. employers that wish to employ foreign workers under certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa programs by:

  1. Reducing the amount of paperwork filed by employers and retained by USCIS;
  2. Promoting consistency in the adjudication of employment-based petitions and applications;
  3. Streamlining the adjudicative process to achieve greater efficiency within USCIS; and
  4. Providing greater support to CBP and DOS in support of greater efficiency and consistency at ports of entry and consular posts.

USCIS explains that, under the Known Employer pilot, up to nine preselected employers will file applications requesting that USCIS predetermine that they meet certain requirements relating to certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visa classifications. When making this request, employers will create a profile in the Web-based Known Employer Document Library (KEDL), and upload documents relating to the requirements. USCIS officers will review and predetermine whether a prospective employer has met certain requirements relating to the visa classifications, and if USCIS approves the employer’s predetermination request, the employer may then file petitions or applications for individual employees without needing to resubmit company information with each petition or application.

USCIS has confirmed that employers will not be charged any additional fees to participate in the Known Employer pilot, which is scheduled to last for up to one year. USCIS has noted, however, that it may terminate or extend the pilot at any time.  

D&S will continue to monitor and provide updates as they become available.