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Archive for the ‘Social Security’ Category

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

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

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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

 

 

 

 

New Social Security Card Process to Commence Sept 9, 2015

Monday, August 24th, 2015
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The new rule provides SSA and the public with different options for verifying an applicant’s identity and other eligibility factors, noting that it will continue to require the same evidence to establish citizenship, age and identity. The new rule will also remove the requirement that individuals seeking a replacement SSN card file an SS-5 form, allowing them instead to complete a “prescribed application,” which the agency said would simply be the application form — whether paper, online or another efficient, user friendly method.  Additionally, the SSA will release, through a gradual, state-by-state rollout, an online application that will permit adult U.S. citizens who are not reporting any changes to their record to apply for replacement SSN cards electronically after registering through the my Social Security” portal.
 
How will this change procedures for processing the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form?   The article states that employers are likely to find more rapid turnaround should employees lack a lost or misplaced social security card requiring reissuance. USCIS Form I-9 permits employers to initiate employment, in most instances, if hired employees can verify within three (3) days employment eligibility through the documentary requirements of USCIS Form I-9, including presentation of a valid social security card under “List C” of Form I-9.
 
– See more here
 
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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.

 

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.

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”.

 

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.

You might be interested in joining our LinkedIn group, I-9/E-Verify: Smart Solutions for Employers,” and signing up to receive via RSS feed or email our Blog posts.

E-Verify Update —–New/Revised MOU’s Released

Friday, November 29th, 2013

NEWS_iStock_000015711880XSmallOn December 8, 2013 E-Verify will release new and revised Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) that are tailored to each access method.

The changes were made in response to customer feedback and to update the MOUs with policy and process changes. Users will find that the new versions have more plain language and are easier to understand, with new titles that clearly identify the access method to which the MOU applies, and bullets that have been changed to letters and numbers to make searching and citation easier. Also, the lengthy sections have been broken up.

Please take the time to review and become familiar with the new MOU’s that apply to your access method; refer to the Fact Sheet and the preview of the new MOUs hereYou can also access this information under “View Essential Resources” by logging into E-Verify to review the new and revised MOUs.

What you need to know

  • Current E-Verify users will not be required to execute a new MOU, but are bound by any and all enhancements to the E-Verify program including the new or revised MOUs that apply to their access method. Current users should become familiar with the new or revised MOU that applies to them.  The effective date of the MOU for existing users is January 8, 2014.
  • The E-Verify enrollment process has not changed.  New Users will review and execute the new or revised version of the MOU that applies to their access method during enrollment.  The effective date of the MOU for new users is December 8, 2013.
  • The new and revised MOUs include several updated provisions such as enhanced privacy protections and instructions for reporting privacy and security breaches.

 Revised Memorandums of Understanding

TeleConferences

 Two teleconferences will be hosted by USCIS to introduce and discuss the revisions schedule as follows: 

 1)     For General Audience:  December 11(Wed.) 2:30 – 3:30 EST.  Will discuss the revisions made to the existing MOU’s and will open up for Questions.  Register here 

2)     For E-Verify Users:  December 12 (Thurs.), 2:30 – 3:30 EST.  USCIS officials will provide an overview of the three new MOUs for Web service participants, and be available to answer questions. Register here

If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received confirmation email within two business days, please email us at Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.

 

How to Contest an I-9 Notice of Intent to Fine (NOF)

Monday, November 11th, 2013

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While DHS/ICE continues to issue Notices of Intent to Fine (NOFs) at an unprecedented rate for Form I-9 related infractions, this is yet another reminder that you can choose to pay the fine or you can contest the fine and file for a  hearing (within 30 days of receipt of the NOF) before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who handles cases related to employer sanctions, document fraud and unfair immigration-related employment practices.  OCAHO has more than proven that they are willing to reassess and lower fees in just about every case in recent months.

Note that many employer sanctions cases never proceed to the hearing stage because either the parties reach a settlement with the approval of the ALJ, or the ALJ resolves a case through a prehearing ruling.

We recommend that your first step in the process be to retain experienced representation that specializes in the practice area of employer compliance to guide you step by step through the process – don’t attempt to go this alone. The next step is to understand the process that has been summarized very efficiently in the recent Fact Sheet that we refer to here

Should you have any questions or wish to become a client of our office, please contact us or refer to our services & solutions page.

 

 

 

Infosys to pay $34M in Fines for Visa Fraud and I-9 Violations

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

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Infosys is India’s second largest software exporter, and has about 30,000 workers in the U.S. (160,000 worldwide) with $6B in sales.

After years of investigation, it was found that Infosys “knowingly and unlawfully” brought Indian workers into the United States on B-1 business visitor visas( since 2008), to circumvent  the higher costs and delays of a longer-term employment-related visa, such as the H-1B visa that the workers should have had.  It was found that Infosys systematically submitted misleading information to US immigration authorities and consular officials to obtain the B-1 visas that do not permit employment, unfairly gaining a competitive edge and undercutting American workers qualified for the jobs

Press release states: “Infosys failed to maintain I-9 records for many of its foreign nationals in the United States in 2010 and 2011 as required by law, including a widespread failure to update and re-verify the employment authorization status of a large percentage of its foreign national employees…more than 80 percent of Infosys’s I-9 forms for 2010 and 2011 contained substantive violations.”

The largest fine of its kind, was paid out as follows: $5 million to Homeland Security Investigations, $5 million to the Department of State, and $24 million to the DOJ.

How can employers protect themselves?

The five federal agencies charged with workplace enforcement are not only going after businesses that are known to employ undocumented workers, but they are also making examples out of industry leaders across the country creating headline news. It goes without saying, that this is now a topic that should be on HR executives’ action list.  Turning a blind eye can be exceedingly costly and cause great damage to a company’s reputation.

For more on this Story:  CBS Reports   NY Times

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ICE Releases New Fact Sheet on the I-9 Inspection Process

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Searching for a Niche Group - Magnifying GlassWe have written many articles over the years on what happens when ICE serves an employer with a Notice of Inspection (NOI); see below for links to our articles and resources.  Today, ICE released a new Fact Sheet that referrences the  IRCA law in the 1st paragraph, and then summarizes the order in which an ICE administrative inspection proceeds, the types of notices that are issued following an I-9 ICE audit, how fines are determined based upon knowingly hiring and continuing to employ violations, to substantive and uncorrected techical violations, and how these fines and penalties are calculated.

The penalties for ignoring the legal requirements of the I-9 process can be quite severe, even in cases of unintentional omissions and uncorrected I-9 mistakes. Civil penalties for such errors may range from $110 to $1,100 for each effected employee. A business with thousands of employees and multiple worksites may face a significant financial burden in noncompliance penalties. The fines may be further increased if ICE determines that an employer knowingly hired unauthorized foreign nationals, and can range from $375 to $16,000 per violation with repeat offenders on the high end. Employers and their representatives convicted of having engaged in a pattern or practice of knowingly hiring unauthorized foreign nationals, may also face criminal charges and fines of up to $3,000 per employee and/or six months’ imprisonment. Other federal criminal statues may provide higher penalties in certain fraud cases.

Employers and individuals who commit citizenship status or national origin discrimination may be ordered to pay civil fines and attorneys’ fees. The penalties range from $375 to $3,200 for the first offense for each individual discriminated against; from $3,200 to $6,500 for the second offense; and for subsequent offenses, not less than $4,300 and not more than $16,000 for each person effected.

The trend toward increased scrutiny of immigration employment practices will likely continue in the foreseeable future. With immigration reform still uncertain, ICE continues to step up enforcement activities with a deluge of NOI’s to employers every few months.  These recent developments have made it even more critical that employers maintain a strong immigration compliance profile.  Employers can no longer afford to think that because they don’t hire foreign nationals, they don’t have any I-9 issues or need to comply with I-9 immigration regulations.

The key to I-9 compliance for most organizations starts with a thorough self-examination of existing paper I-9’s, E-Verify submissions (if applicable), standard operating procedures, and past practices. While there are many checklists and do-it-yourself guides, free webinars and Podcasts available on the Internet and elsewhere, consulting an experienced immigration consultant or attorney in the practice area can save employers hours of research, provide a solution tailored to your organization and save you thousands of dollars in fines and penalties.

You should strongly consider an independent I-9 audit if…

  1. You’ve had a turnover in the HR position(s) charged with the responsibility of handling and processing I-9 Forms
  2. None of the staff charged with the I-9 process has been formally trained
  3. You already know that you have I-9 document violations, errors and unintentional mistakes
  4. You have recently gone through a corporate reorganization, merger or acquisition
  5. You know you have an on-boarding process that is complex, such as multiple jobsite locations where the I-9 process takes place
  6. When you haven’t documented your I-9 Form policies and procedures in a policy statement or procedures manual
  7. If you have a large volume of foreign worker I-9 forms
  8. If you do not have a calendar system for re-verification or terminated employee retention
  9. If you do not have a centralized I-9 recordkeeping process
  10. If you are photocopying documents presented during the I-9 process for some and not for others
  11. You participate in government contracts and have been asked to perform an I-9 audit
  12. You have not performed a random or full audit within the last year by either an internal individual who is familiar with I-9 compliance rules but does not deal with I-9s on a regular basis, or by a reputable independent I-9 auditor.
  13. You’ve never performed a self-audit or had any outside provider perform an I-9 audit
  14. You do not know how to make corrections to the I-9 form
  15. You’ve received SSA No Match Letters
  16. Your industry is being targeted by ICE
  17. You’re unaware that a new I-9 form was released and do not have a process in place for staying current with regulations and procedures

Immigration Compliance Group regularly represents clients from all industries to develop effective I-9 policies and compliance programs.  By establishing and maintaining effective corporate policies and procedures, many of the above-mentioned warning signs can be addressed proactively in an audit before the government does one for you.

New ICE Fact Sheet

I-9Audit.com – Our Employer Resource Center Articles

 

 

 

 

 

E-Verify Now Open and Provides Instructions on Shutdown Issues for New Hires, TNCs and FNCs

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

E-Verify has resumed operations following the federal government shutdown. All E-Verify features and services are now available.

The following information addresses questions on how the federal government’s shutdown affected E-Verify and Form I-9.

Information For Employers

Form I-9

The Form I-9 requirements were not affected during the federal government shutdown. All employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for every person hired to work for pay in the United States during the shutdown.

E-Verify

Employees who received a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)

If an employee had a TNC referred between September 17, 2013 and September 30, 2013 and was not able to resolve the TNC due to the federal government shutdown, add 12 federal business days to the date printed on the ‘Referral Letter’ or ‘Referral Date Confirmation.’ Employees have until this new date to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to resolve their cases. If you have an employee who decided to contest his or her TNC while E-Verify was unavailable, you should now initiate the referral process in E-Verify. Employers may not take any adverse action against an employee because of a TNC.

Employees who received a SSA Final Nonconfirmation (FNC) or DHS No Show result

If an employee received a Final Nonconfirmation (FNC) or No Show because of the federal government shutdown, please close the case and select “The employee continues to work for the employer after receiving a Final Nonconfirmation result,” or “The employee continues to work for the employer after receiving a No Show result.” The employer must then enter a new case in E-Verify for that employee. These steps are necessary to ensure the employee is afforded the opportunity to timely contest and resolve the Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) that led to the FNC result.

Creating Cases: Three-Day Rule

You must create an E-Verify case for each employee hired during or otherwise affected by the shutdown by November 5, 2013. If you are prompted to provide a reason why the case is late (i.e., does not conform to the three-day rule), select ‘Other’ from the drop-down list of reasons and enter ‘federal government shutdown’ in the field. Federal Contractor

Deadlines

During the federal government shutdown, federal contractors could not enroll or use E-Verify as required by the federal contractor rule. If your organization missed a deadline because E-Verify was unavailable or if it has an upcoming deadline for complying with the federal contractor rule, please follow the instructions above and notify your contracting officer of these instructions.

Information For Employees

If the federal government shutdown prevented you from contesting a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC), you will be allowed additional time to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If your TNC was referred between September 17, 2013 and September 30, 2013, and you were not able to resolve the mismatch due to the federal government shutdown, you should:

  • Add 12 federal business days to the date printed on the ‘Referral Letter’ or ‘Referral Date Confirmation’ that your employer provided you after you contested the TNC. Federal business days are Monday through Friday and do not include federal holidays.
  • Contact SSA or DHS by the new date to resolve your TNC.

If you received a Final Non-Confirmation (FNC) because you could not contact DHS or SSA during the federal government shutdown, or because you could not contact DHS or SSA in the first ten days after the government reopened, please contact your employer and request that the employer re-enter your query. For more information about contesting your TNC or FNC, please refer to Employee section of the E-Verify website.

Customer Support

E-Verify Customer Support expects an increase in requests for assistance. Due to this increase, customers may experience longer than normal delays and response times. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience. For any questions or additional information about how the federal shutdown affects E-Verify, please email E-Verify@dhs.gov. For questions about Form I-9, please visit I-9 Central or email I-9Central@dhs.gov. Employers and employees may also contact E-Verify at 888-464-4218. Customer Support representatives are available Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm local time.

If you would like to become a client of our office or have any questions psertaining to this blog post, please give us a call.