Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises (VIBE) Program
A new tool that U.S. Citzenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers have recently begun using is VIBE or “Validation Instrument for Business Enterprises”. VIBE is a web-based program that uses available data from independent information providers (currently Dun & Bradstreet) to confirm and validate basic information about companies or organizations that are petitioning to employ alien workers.
One of USCIS’ stated goals for the program is to reduce the need for frequent petitioners to submit extensive business documentation with each filing (thus increasing the efficiency of reviews by USCIS). However, employers could actually receive more USCIS Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs), at least initially, causing delays in processing. This is because in addition to the prior reasons for preparing and sending RFEs and NOIDs to employers, new RFEs and NOIDs are likely to be issued whenever information provided by employers in employment-based petitions conflict with the Dun & Bradstreet database.
Some of the types of information available to officers through VIBE include business activities (including the type of business and whether it is active or inactive), financial standing (including sales volume and credit standing), number of employees, relationships with other entities (including foreign affiliates), business status (such as single entity, branch, subsidiary or headquarters), ownership/legal status (such as LLC, partnership or corporation), names of company executives, date of establishment, and current physical address.
In adjudicating certain employment-based petitions, USCIS officers will review information received through VIBE, along with any supporting documents received from petitioners in the initial petition packet. VIBE will also be used to verify the petitioner’s qualifications. For example, if a petitioner is seeking L-1 status for a beneficiary, VIBE will help adjudicators confirm that the petitioner has a foreign affiliate, which is a requirement for granting L-1 status. In cases where petitioners must establish ability to pay, information from VIBE will assist in confirming the petitioner’s financial viability.
If there are any discrepancies on the record, USCIS will not initially deny a petition, but will first give the petitioner an opportunity to respond to its concerns. If necessary, an RFE or NOID will be issued to resolve inconsistencies or other issues material to the benefit requested that have emerged through review of the information supplied by VIBE. USCIS officers will then make their final decisions based on the totality of evidence presented.
The types of immigrant and nonimmigrant classifications included in VIBE are numerous and may be found on USCIS’ website and include such non-immigrant petitions as E-1 Treaty Trader, E-2 Treaty Investor, H-1B Specialty Occupation Worker, H-2A Temporary or Seasonal Agricultural Worker, H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker, H-3 Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor, L-1A and L-1B Intra-company transferees, LZ Blanket L, R-1 Religious Worker, and the TN NAFTA Professional from Canada or Mexico classification. Form I-140 immigrant petitions in the employment-based first preference (EB-1) subcategories for outstanding professors and researchers and multinational managers will also be verified through VIBE, as will EB-2 advanced-degree professionals and exceptional ability cases and EB-3 professional, skilled, and unskilled worker petitions.
At this time only a few employment-based classifications are not included in VIBE. The exceptions are due to their unique eligibility requirements and include the following: a) E11, Individuals of Extraordinary Ability, b) E21, National Interest Waiver, c) EB-5, Immigrant Investor, d) O, Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (including essential support personnel), and e) Internationally Recognized Athletes and Entertainment Groups, Performers Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program, and Artists or Entertainers Under a Culturally Unique Program (including essential support personnel).
Although petitioners are not required to update their record with Dun & Bradstreet upon receipt of an RFE or NOID for a VIBE-related issue, they may choose to do so in order to prevent subsequently filed petitions from receiving similar RFEs or NOIDs. Rather than waiting for an initial RFE or NOID, prudent employers should check their Dun & Bradstreet profiles for mistakes before filing a petition and contact them as soon as possible to correct any error. Taking prompt steps beforehand to rectify inaccuracies and outdated information (as well as retaining notes and copies of all correspondence in relation to this issue) may help prevent processing delays due to VIBE-related issues.