In January 2015, as part of the White House’s 2015 immigration modernization plan, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it is testing a new Known Employer program, which ultimately aims to streamline the adjudication of some employment-based benefit requests.  Similar to the L-1 Blanket program, under the Known Employer Pilot Program, participating U.S. employers can first apply to have USCIS to review and predetermine whether they meet the minimum corporate eligibility requirements before they submit individual H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, TN non-immigrant petitions, or EB-1-2 and EB-1-3 immigrant classifications.  

The Suggested Application Process:

In particular, employers admitted to the Pilot Program will have to submit to an online library in the Web-based Known Employer Document Library (KEDL) the following: (i) corporate documentation and other evidence that relate to the employer’s corporate structure, operations and financial health, and (ii) a Form I-950, Application for Predetermination under Known Employer Program.  These documents uploaded to the KEDL will also be available for review by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Department of State (DOS) officers in support of their own adjudications.

USCIS officers will then review the submitted documents and predetermine whether the employer has satisfied certain corporate requirements for each classification requested.

If USCIS approves the employer’s predetermination request, the employer may then file petitions or applications for individual employees without needing to resubmit company documents with each individual case.  This also means that the USCIS officer will only have to decide on the remaining requirements of an individual petition or application, such as the nature of the job offered and the employee’s qualifications. 

Five (5) Participating Employers for One (1) Year Pilot:

As of the launch date of March 3, 2016, only the following five (5) employers have confirmed their participation in the pilot program:  Citigroup, Inc., Ernst & Young LLP, Kiewit Corporation, Schaeffler Group USA, Inc. and Siemens Corporation. 

The pilot is scheduled to last for one (1) year; however, USCIS may, in its discretion, terminate or extend the pilot at any time.  Thus, it is too early to tell whether this Pilot Program will be extended for other employers for the duration of the pilot, or extended beyond the one (1) year, let alone the ultimate success of the Program.

Goals of the Program:

If successful, USCIS hopes that the Known Employer program will:

  • Reduce the amount of paperwork filed by employers and retained by USCIS;
  • Promote consistency in the adjudication of employment-based petitions and applications;
  • Streamline the adjudicative process to achieve greater efficiency within USCIS; and
  • Provide greater support to CBP and DOS, leading to greater efficiency and consistency at ports of entry and consular posts.

Again, this is just the start of this Pilot Program; and therefore, too early to get too excited about the possibility of a streamlined application/adjudication process for employment-based benefit requests.

For more details, please see:
https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/known-employer-pilot