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Archive for the ‘OSC’ Category

DOJ issues interim final rule increasing fines 35-96% for employing unauthorized workers

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Searching for a Niche Group - Magnifying Glass

This rule implements as an inflation adjustment fines for employing unauthorized workers for Form I-9 paperwork violations, and for immigration-related discrimination. These new fines increase the penalties from 35% to 96% depending on the nature and severity of the violation.

We encourage you to review your policies, procedures and your Form I-9 inventory.  Remember, the key to defending any employment related investigation is to evidence that there is and has been a consistent pattern of responsible, good faith effort on the part of the employer in establishing a compliant workforce.

Refer here for the details.

 

Employee Notifies that I-9 Documents Previously Submitted were not Genuine: What’s an Employer to do?

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Searching for a Niche Group - Magnifying Glass

The OSC publishes responses to  TAL Letters (Technical Assistance Letters) that they receive from attorneys, employers and other stakeholders.  USCIS identifies this circumstance in the I-9 Employer Handbook as an employee who comes forward and indicates that their identity is now different than previously represented (Hmm…)  and now wants to “regularize” their employment record.  Or, what do you do if you become aware, for instance, that a social security number associated with a particular employee was not legally assigned?

Discussion starts on page 2.

OSC’s TAL implies that if an employer has not consistently-followed a policy of terminating individuals for providing false information during the hiring process, it couldn’t use that policy to justify a termination in this particular scenario.  Even if the employer did consistently terminate individuals who were dishonest during the hiring process, OSC implied that this was not necessarily a slam dunk argument either. It is important to note that OSC did not commit itself by concluding that such a termination under the circumstances would not constitute discrimination or be deemed to be a valid legitimate non-discriminatory reason for termination. It simply stated it would depend on the facts and circumstances.  Before you go down this road, remember –the USCIS Handbook for Employers provides that “Where an employee has worked for you using a false identity but is currently work authorized, the I-9 rules do not require termination of employment.”

There’s also guidance regarding this for DACA employees that you might wish to review.  For more on I-9 compliance please refer to our Employer Resource Center

 

 

 

 

Recent DOJ Worksite Enforcement Settlements that Shed Light on Form I-9 Employer Compliance

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

One group of customers standing on a red target bullseye, with magnifying glass hovering above it

Plain and simple, failing to comply with IRCA’s I-9 rules have, and are continuing at a rapid rate, to result in significant fines, loss of access to government contracts, an onslaught of negative publicity, business closure, criminal penalties and even imprisonment.  Here are a few examples of recently settled cases in August 2015:

1) Creating discriminatory barriers for immigrants who have permission to work in the United States, $165 civil penalty with $50K in back pay:
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-discrimination-claim-against-louisiana-crane-construction

2) Requiring non-U.S. citizens, but not similarly-situated U.S. citizens, to present specific documentary proof of their immigration status to verify their employment eligibility, $200K civil penalty: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-immigration-related-discrimination-claim-against-nebraska-based

3) City of Eugene, OR improperly restricted law enforcement positions to U.S. citizens at the time of hire, even though no law, regulation, executive order or government contract authorized such a restriction. must pay a civil penalty, train its employees about the anti-discrimination provision of the INA and be subject to monitoring by the Justice Department for a period of three years!
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-settles-citizenship-discrimination-claim-against-city-eugene-oregon

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Immigration Compliance Group provides US inbound immigration services to individuals and employers throughout the USA and abroad. We specialize in business immigration and have a depth of experience in the IT, healthcare, arts, entertainment and sports industries, amongst others. Our services include complex business visas for investors, multinational managers, skilled professionals, outstanding individuals of high achievement (O-1, P visas, EB-1 and EB-2 Exceptional Ability cases) and PERM Labor Certification.  We additionally provide employer compliance consulting services on proper I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) management, auditing, training, and work with our clients to develop a culture of immigration compliance. Our door is open for new clients — we extend a 20% discount on the first case with our firm.  Contact us at info@immigationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996.

Can Driver Authorization Cards be used as a List B Document for I-9 Employment Verification?

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

Searching for a Niche Group - Magnifying GlassWe’re starting to intake alot of questions concerning these cards as they now filter through the system to employers charged with handling Form I-9 employment verification.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia enacted laws to allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain a driver’s licenses. These states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont and Washington—issue a license if an applicant provides certain documentation, such as a foreign birth certificate, a foreign passport, or a consular card and evidence of current residency in the state. Eight of these states extended driving privileges in 2013. In 2015, Delaware and Hawaii enacted legislation to give unauthorized immigrants driving privileges.

Here are examples of some of the cards with various different annotations.

An employer is required to accept as a list B document an unexpired driver’s license or ID that meets the standard for I-9 purposes.  What’s the standard?  A photo and other identifying information such as, their name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color and address. The underlying issue here is state law vs. immigration (federal law) and USCIS regulations concerning Form I-9.

Both USCIS and OSC concur, despite the various different types of annotations that appear on driver authorization cards, that they meet the regulations for an acceptable List B document if they adhere to the standards mentioned above.

An employer is required to examine the documents presented by its employee and determine whether they meet Form I-9 requirements. If the employer accepts any document, including a state-issued license or driver authorization card, or other type of ID with a limiting notation as a List B document, the employer must also examine a List C document that evidences employment authorization in order to make a proper determination if the individual is eligible for employment.

Employers may reject a document if it does not reasonably appear to be genuine or to relate to the employee. Rejecting a document that satisfies Form I-9 requirements may constitute illegal discrimination under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

USCIS has published a set of FAQs on this topic that contain critical information and should be read, discussed and made a part of your training program for those charged with processing I-9 forms. Should you have any questions  on this matter or any other concerns regarding employer compliance issues, please feel free to contact us at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or call
562 612.3996.

E-Verify Announces Major Proposed Changes

Friday, July 17th, 2015

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USCIS released details of proposed new changes to the E-Verify program on June 8, 2015 that were published this week.  The notice, found here, proposes several changes to E-Verify and seeks public comments until August 7, 2015 and links to new Q&A.   These changes will affect all employer users, including Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) contractors.

The three critical changes entail:

1)  Requirement that employers re-verify the continuing work authorization of employees within three “Employer” days of the expiration of the employee’s “last” grant of work authorization.

a)  This requirement tracks the current continuing duty of employers to re-verify expiring work authorization of employees in Section 3 of the I-9 form or, in the alternative, to complete a new I-9.

b)  This differs from the I-9 process in that the E-Verify time frame for re-verification of the employment authorization is three days after its expiration, whereby the I-9 regulations state that an employer re-verify the expiring work authorization of an employee on or before the day it expires. In E-Verify, the proposed process cannot be started until after the expiration of the employment authorization.

c)  The re-verification requirement extends to employees hired before an employer began participating in the E-Verify program. Thus, the proposed change would require that employers re-verify an employee’s expiring work authorization regardless of whether they have previously created an E-Verify case for that employee or not. This again differs from the current E-Verify program rules that explicitly prohibit an employer verifying the work authorization of employees hired before the employer began participating in the program (with the exception of FAR E-Verify employers).

2)  Requirement that employers print the re-verification confirmation page and retain it along with an employee’s I-9 records or record the E-Verify re-verification case number on the employee’s I-9 Form.

3)  Provides a process for employees to seek review of E-Verify Final-Nonconfirmations.

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Immigration Compliance Group provides US inbound visa services to individuals and employers throughout the USA and abroad. We specialize in business immigration and have a depth of experience in the IT, healthcare, arts, entertainment and sports industries, amongst others. Our services include complex business visas for investors, multinational managers, skilled professionals, outstanding individuals of high achievement and PERM Labor Certification. We additionally provide employer compliance consulting services on proper I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) management, auditing, training, and work with our clients to develop a culture of immigration compliance.

 

California New AB 60 Driver’s License: Is it Good for Employment Eligibility?

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

SSCard_iStock_000008528169_ExtraSmall (2)Since early 2015, qualified California residents have been able to apply for and receive a driver’s license issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles without proving that their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.  All employers must accept the AB 60 driver’s license as a Form I-9 List B Identity document if the license reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to the individual.  As with all permissible List B driver’s licenses, the AB 60 driver’s license must contain either a photograph or list the individual’s name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address. The AB 60 driver’s license only documents the employee’s identity; California employers must still examine a List C document that establishes employment authorization, such as a Social Security card or birth certificate.

 

View the Example of the AB-CA Driver’s License annotated with “Federal Benefits Apply”.

 

OSC Responds to E-Verify Concerns Regarding TX Executive Order RP-80

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

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The OSC responds to inquiry clarifying possible E-Verify conflict between the obligations that TX state contractors and certain TX state agencies have under federal E-Verify with the TX Executive Order RP-80 that requires state contractors use E-Verify for “all persons employed during the contract term to perform duties within TX”.

The OSC letter qualifies the following 2 issues:

1)  Whether TX state contractors (who are not federal contractors) may disregard the terms of RP-80 by choosing to E-Verify only new hires; and

2)  Whether a TX state agency may E-Verify current and prospective employees

USCIS has advised TX employers that federal E-Verify regulations are in effect at all times. Under federal E-Verify rules, most employers using E-Verify may only create E-Verify cases for new hires. Federal E-Verify rules provide an exception for employers enrolled in E-Verify as federal contractors. They must create cases in E-Verify for new hires and for existing employees performing work under the federal contract (if the employer has not already created a case for the employee), and may choose an option to create cases in E-Verify for all employees of the contractor.

 

E-Verify Records Retention and Disposal | I-9 Webinars On-Demand

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION

As of January 1, 2015, E-Verify will begin disposing of E-Verify records that are over 10 years old. In order to retain case information, E-Verify employers may download and save the new “Historic Records Report.”  If you want a record of your cases that are more than 10 years old, you must download the new Historic Records Report before December 31, 2014.  The report will include all transaction records for cases more than 10 years old.  The report is only available until December 31, 2014.

NOTE – this Report will ONLY BE AVAILABLE from October 1, through December 31, 2014.  The Fact Sheet provides more information as to how to proceed to download applicable E-Verify records.

If you were not using E-Verify on or before December 31, 2004, you do not need to download the report. There will be no records to report.  Note that E-Verify will continue this practice on an annual basis.

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USCIS Now Offering I-9 Webinars On-Demand

On September 25, 2014, USCIS published the first Form I-9 Webinar On – Demand. Now you can watch the free Form I-9 webinar at any time.
Choose the chapters of your choice or watch the entire 22 minute video in one sitting. You will see how to complete Sections 1, 2 and 3, best practices
and much more. It’s a great training tool. Visit I-9 Central to learn more and view other videos in the multi-media section.

Form I-9 Webinar on Demand | USCIS uscis.gov

 

Will Driver’s Licenses for the Undocumented be Acceptable for I-9 Purposes?

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Undoc D-L

Last October, CA was the 10th state to sign into law driver’s “permits” for undocumented immigrants. In response to an email concerning this topic and whether this would be an acceptable List B document for I-9 purposes, the OSC posted a Technical Assistance letter response a few days ago on its website.

It has been my understanding that the permits will contain language that states that they are not to be used for “federal official purposes,” and will contain a notice on the card that reads: “This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits. ”

The matter, however, is timely addressed and is a reminder to examine driver’s licenses more closely and read the fine print on the front and back. Here’s a link to the letter that was posted on Feb. 7th. You’ll see it posted under the heading “Fiscal Year 2014.”

Also, here’s an article with an example of the card being used in Illinois stating “not valid for identification” indicated  very clearly at the top of the card.

If any of our readers more recently have run across one of these cards presented during the I-9 process, please share with us.

Compliance Audits are Recommended for Employers at the Beginning of the New Year

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

SSCard_iStock_000008528169_ExtraSmall (2)DHS/ICE continues to issue Notices of Intent to Fine (NOFs) at an unprecedented rate for Form I-9 related infractions.  Mistakes occur in the I-9 process, it’s inevitable.  While establishing a written compliance policy, training and careful prevention is the best approach.  All employers should take time at the beginning of each year to conduct an internal audit and self-examination of their systems, operating procedures, and past and present practices for handling I-9s, as well as to access training needs for the employees charged with handling and supervising the I-9 process.  We also recommend that you review your E-Verify submissions, as well as revisiting just how compliant your I-9 software really is with your vendor if you are using an electronic system.

While there are many checklists and do-it-yourself guides and webinars available on the Internet and elsewhere, consulting a licensed attorney or specialist in the field who is familiar with I-9 and E-Verify compliance issues can save employers hours of research, provide a solution tailored to your organization, and save you thousands of dollars in fines and penalties should ICE knock on your door.

When ICE notifies an employer of their intention to perform an audit, it opens the door for an onslaught of inquiries and investigation from other government agencies that range from SSA mis-match issues to Department of Labor (DOL) wage and hour, USCIS, IRS, and more if you have areas of incompliance in your operating procedures.  This is not the time during an audit when under pressure to clean up compliance problems.

New employers are often more at risk because many are not even aware of the I-9 requirement, and probably are also unaware of the need for all employees to complete the I-9 Form.  Some are aware, but they lack knowledge concerning the regulations that govern the form; such as, timeframes, acceptable documents, form retention, and other important details that are integral to the process. Particularly, there are problems with industries such as IT consulting, healthcare, staffing agencies, and other organizations with multiple locations in regard to completing the I-9-Form remotely with the employer’s designated agent and employee in different locations.   

These are just a few reasons why we urge you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your present compliance program, and start the New Year fresh with a renewed commitment to implement best practices that will provide the foundation upon which you can develop and maintain a more compliant business and workforce.

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