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Posts Tagged ‘I-9 Compliance’

New I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form, Effective Sept. 18, 2017

Monday, July 17th, 2017

I-9+Website+High+res+Logo_x625[1]USCIS released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17. Instructions for how to download Form I-9 are available on the Form I-9 page. On Sept. 18th, employers must use the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9s.

Revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.
  • They removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

Revisions related to the List of Acceptable Documents on Form I-9:

  • Added the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) to List C. Employers completing Form I-9 on a computer will be able to select Form FS-240 from the drop-down menus available in List C of Sections 2 and 3. E-Verify users will also be able to select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9.
  • Combined all the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, and Form FS-240) into selection C #2 in List C.
  • Renumbered all List C documents except the Social Security card. For example, the employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security on List C changed from List C #8 to List C #7.

USCIS included these changes in the revised Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9 (M-274), which is also easier for users to navigate.

Should you have any questions or would like to discuss how your company can establish a culture of compliance, please contact us at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com

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

Friday, July 8th, 2016

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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

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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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

A Sampling of OSC Recent I-9 Enforcement Activities

Friday, September 13th, 2013

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This gives you a good look at what the OSC is targeting these days.

We’d also like to take the opportunity to remind you to schedule I-9 audits yearly (they don’t have to be full audits – but can be partial) so that you can see what’s buried in  your paperwork and catch it before the issues become reoccurring problems AND before ICE  knocks on your door.  Training:  Well, we can’t say enough on training.  Employers need to provide ongoing ‘refresher’ training every year.  The issues change from year to year as do the interpretations.  Lastly, review your policies and procedures in relation to compliance best practices for your business.  Make sure they are up to date, and make sure that every employee who is involved with  processing I-9 forms participates in yearly training, reads the M-274 Employer Handbook and remembers to provide to every employee a List of Acceptable Documents along with the I-9 form Instructions when they fill out the form.  So many errors can be caught at the onset just by reviewing the instructions and the List of Acceptable Documents.

Lastly, our Employer Resource Center is an excellent resource, as is our Blog and our LinkedIn Group, I-9/E-Verify: Smart Solutions for Employers.  Sign up and keep yourself informed

 

DACA – Know your Workplace Rights

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The National Immigration Law Center released this week FAQ’s concerning worksite rights for DACA employees.  The information is very helpful for those who are applying for DACA and for those who have been granted deferred action under the DACA Program.  There is also some excellent guidance for employers concerning the I-9 form for DACA new and existing employees, social security cards, employment verification letters, and more.  We also link to a previous blog post with updated FAQ information on the USCIS website.

Please be aware that this is ‘general’ information only.  We always recommend that you seek guidance from a skilled immigration attorney or professional who is familiar with DACA and employer compliance issues.  As always, we are available to work with you on your casework and to assist employers with employment eligibility verification issues.  Please contact one of our immigration professionals at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996 and visit our I-9 Employer Resource Center.

Nestle KID-Kat Bars?: Audit Helps Chocolate Maker “Grow Up”

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

By:  Timothy Sutton, Communications Editor

Swiss based Nestle has discovered “numerous” violations of its internal work rules as a result of internal auditing aimed at combatting child labor. The manufacturer of Kit-Kat bars reported that four-fifths of its cocoa comes from unmonitored labor channels. The Fair Labor Association is insisting Nestle implement higher supply chain standards moving forward. The cocoa industry is fraught with child labor issues, with child worker rates reaching upwards of 89% in the Ivory Coast. Unfortunately this far-reaching problem will not be solved overnight, “The complexity of child labor in the cocoa supply chain means solving the problem will take years,” Nestle said.

As a result of Nestle’s voluntary audit, the company has avoided penalties thus far. However, their involvement in child labor comes at a price. The company is now committed to altering supply chain practices and will invest heavily in future monitoring services.

While most American businesses can rest assured they are not supporting the underground child-labor industry, Nestle’s efforts to self-assess and reform should be applauded. Domestic and international companies will benefit greatly from routine internal audits that track workforce compliance. USCIS and ICE encourage employers to frequently perform internal audits of their Form I-9 practices. In fact, records of regular auditing of your workforce may help you avoid hefty civil penalties in the event of an official government audit. The next time you “break off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar,” consider following Nestle’s example of self-auditing and contact one of our immigration professionals at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996.

Other resources:

 

 

I-9 Form: Recipes For Success | Lessons Learned as a Restaurant Manager

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

By:  Timothy Sutton, Communications Editor

Like many successful restaurant managers, I worked my way up from the bottom of the employee food chain. That meant with each promotion from bus boy to manager, I was trained by other employees on how to do my job. By the time I became a General Manager, I erroneously believed that being a good manager meant being able to follow established procedures. I soon discovered that this was actually a recipe for disaster.

Auditioning a new waiter is a common practice in the restaurant industry. This entails observing an applicant voluntarily interacting with customers, taking orders, serving food and working with other employees. Typically, the audition ends with a free meal in exchange for the waiter’s time and parking validation if the restaurant is generous. Throughout the industry, restaurateurs believe that this practice limits their liability because the applicant has not yet become an employee in “volunteering,” their time to audition for the job.

However, the M-274 Handbook For Employers instructions on completing form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Form) classifies this practice of meals and parking reimbursement as remuneration: anything of value given in exchange of labor or services, including food or lodging. Because restaurant managers typically train one another on hiring practices, there is a perpetual false belief that auditioning waiters is a healthy hiring practice. According to the M-274, the work done in exchange for the value of a meal exposes restaurants to form I-9 non-compliance fines. Essentially, the audition becomes Day One of employment, which requires I-9 forms to be completed and retained.

If the applicant is not hired, both Section 1 and 2 of the I-9 form must be completed that same-day in order to comply with rules regarding employees retained for three-days or less. Without the proper knowledge and training on these I-9 compliance issues, managers expose their companies to thousands of dollars in fines by auditioning waiters. A successful manager goes beyond following the established procedures by having the foresight to seek professional guidance to ensure that company employment practices are in accordance with the law.

For fresh insight into how your business’s employment practices can become a recipe for success contact our office at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996.

Please refer to our informative Employer Resource Center for more, and here for a list of our services and solutions.

 

 

I-9 Best Practice Audit Recommendations from OSC

Monday, January 30th, 2012

This brochure outlines some excellent Do’s and Don’ts pertaining to how to interact with employees during an ICE audit; however, these suggestions additionally apply to all audit situations such as outside 3rd party audits by attorneys or compliance experts, as well as internal self-audits.

It is recommended that you have an established procedure for interacting with employees whose I-9 forms require correcting; i.e, how to inform them that you are seeking information from them, what to communicate to them, and how much time to allow them to respond.

Should you wish to discuss the particulars of your compliance program, please feel to contact our office for more information.

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Leslie Davis is the Managing Director of Immigration Compliance Group and is an expert in employer compliance matters.  The firm also specializes in US and Canadian business immigration.