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Posts Tagged ‘I-9 Violations’

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

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Newsletter-collage

 

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

For more on our services and solutions

 

 

Part II — Our Continuing Saga of USCIS Answers Concerning the New I-9 Form

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image12707143

The question of whether “N/A” may or must be entered in non-applicable fields, or whether N/A is sometimes required and sometimes optional – is a question we’ve all been wondering about.  Here’s recent guidance on the topic . . .

If the passport number and country of issuance fields in Section 1 do not apply, the employee MUST write “N/A.”  If all else fails, follow the instructions!…In essence that’s the recent guidance – read the instructions when determining if an N/A response is required as it states when an employer or employee may use N/A or must use N/A.  Failing to provide a response in a required field may be considered a verification violattion (yes, it’s true!).

Not to belabor it, but this is another very good reason for providing the instructions to the employees when they are filling out Section 1 and deciding which documents to present in the I-9 process. It would be advisable for the employer representative to also have a copy of the instructions on their desk

The I-9 Instructions:  http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf

How have you been dealing with the “N/A” requirement so far?  No judgements – let us hear from you.

USCIS Provides Answers to New I-9 Form Questions

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-questions-answers-image5665970Answers to questions from April 2013 by the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) to USCIS Verification Division/Washington, DC re the new I-9 Form, its Instructions, the M-274 Handbook and the I-9 Central website have finally been answered.  We will be featuring several of the Q&A’s this week and trust that you will find this both enlightening and informative.

Today, we deal with new name change directives and guidance – Page 23 of the Employer Handbook.  In the case of a divorce, it is recommended even where there is no rehire or reverification in order that the employer’s actions are well documented if the government asks to inspect your Forms I-9.

Question:  Can USCIS Verification confirm that the only time an employer is required to record a legal name change is in connection with a rehire or reverificaton?  In addition, does USCIS intend, by its advice to take steps to be reasonably assured of the employee’s identity and the veracity of the employee’s claim of a legal name change to require female employees to produce marriage licenses or divorce decrees after a change in marital status?  To what extent has Verification discussed this change in guidance with OSC or the EEOC to ensure that it is not inconsistent with anti-discrimination provisions?

Answer: Page 24 of the Employer Handbook contains new guidance for employers dealing with a situation where a current employee comes forward with documentation of a new identity.  The Handbook states that the employer should complete a new I-9 form, list the original hire date, and provide a written explanation of the circumstances giving rise to the new I-9-.  Although we agree that completion of a new I-9 may be the best practice in certain circumstances, requiring employers to complete a new I-9 for existing employees who provide updated identity documentation appears to be at odds with the statute and regulations that require an I-9 only upon “hire.”

The legal basis for the guidance in the Handbook in certain circumstances is based on the INA that refers to the prohibition against continuing to employ an alien knowing that they are unauthorized to work.

An example of this might be presentation to the employer of a new Social Security Card reflecting a new Social Security number and new name which raises material questions as to the identity of the employee, the veracity of information on Form I-9, the genuineness of any documents presented in Section 2 that contain a Social Security number, and the relation of these documents to the person who presented them.  The employer can no longer reasonably rely on the Form I-9 to be assured that the individual is authorized to work.  In this scenario, USCIS suggests completion of a new Form I-9 to ensure the employee is eligible to continue in employment.  This is a suggestion, and not a requirement.

Our office agrees with this position and recommends filling out a new I-9 form.  Should you have any questions concerning this guidance, please contact our office at Info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996.

U.S. Begins New Crackdown on Hiring Illegal Workers

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image12707143Wall Street Journal (09/12/13) Article Reprinted in Staffing Today

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has notified 1,000 companies across the country that they must submit employment verification documents for audits. This is the largest audit since July 2009. The audits target restaurants, food processors, high-tech manufacturers, the agriculture sector, and other industries that cumulatively employ tens of thousands of workers.

The audits will not lead to deportation of illegal workers, but those workers will lose their jobs, which critics point out can drive immigrants to exploitative, off-the-books work. They can also cause lost productivity and result in large fines and the loss of employees to competitors. ICE typically requests Forms I-9, worker rosters, and payroll stubs, then issues notices of suspect documents to employers, which inform their workers they must either produce legal documentation or quit. More than 10,000 employers have been audited in the past four years. The audits have grown more intense, and ICE now requests not just basic paperwork but weekly work schedules, names of managers, lists of temporary staffing firms used, and the company’s articles of incorporation.”

This is certainly NOT what you want to take place in your company. If you know that you are overdue for an I–9 audit (whether full or partial), or require additional training or should have your policies and procedures examined in light of recommended best practices, being proactive will always be your best defense. So, do not procrastinate. We’d be glad to work with you toward this end.  You contact us at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or by calling 562 612.3996.

Reprint here:  http://staffingtoday.net/2013/09/13/

 

A Sampling of OSC Recent I-9 Enforcement Activities

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Searching for a Niche Group - Magnifying Glass

 

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

 

ICE Reverses Position on Pre-Population of Section 1 of I-9 Form

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

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Updated entry re below post: 10/11/2013

In an update to the statements made by ICE to AILA (the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association) in their April 11, 2013 liaison meeting, ICE HSI Worksite Enforcement representatives recently announced to stakeholders that it now has no position on pre-population of Section 1 of the I-9 by electronic I-9 programs, reversing its position from being “not permissible.”  This appears to represent an important change from the position the agency announced to AILA and several other organizations in early April that pre-population of Section 1 by electronic I-9 programs is always prohibited.

The AILA Verification and Documentation Liaison Committee will seek clarification of ICE’s recent statements and the impact on employers and electronic I-9 programs at the fall liaison meeting.

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ICE HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) directorate strongly spoke out against I-9 pre-population  at a recent AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) meeting indicating that it was inappropriate and that pre-populating Form I-9 is considered unacceptable practice and a violation.  More recently, OSC in a response to a TAL (Technical Assistance Letter), also spoke out against pre-population stating their concern regarding Section 1 containing outdated or incorrect information.

In light of this change in policy, software providers and employers who use electronic I-9 software should consider this most recent announcement.  We caution employers to review their hiring procedures as it relates to this compliance issue with their software providers.

For more information on I-9/E-Verify employer compliance, please refer to our employer resource center.

 

 

One Mission: Preventing Citizenship Discrimination, The OSC | I-9/E-Verify News

Friday, June 8th, 2012

By:  Timothy Sutton, Communications Editor

After the Department of Justice and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) publicized the current charges against the Tuscany Suites and Casino in Las Vegas, I consulted a staff attorney at the OSC to inquire how prudent businesses can avoid citizenship discrimination litigation altogether. The answer, as you might imagine, focused on prevention.

The OSC is charged with prosecuting unlawful employment practices of discrimination related to immigration based upon citizenship status, nationality, and the appearance of “foreignness.” Labor laws protect both U.S. Citizens and Non-Citizen workers. OSC investigators receive leads from employee victims of discrimination or through their tip hotline. Additionally, the OSC fields general questions and assists businesses with developing fair labor practices.

After the OSC investigates alleged discriminatory practices, if there is reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred, charges will be filed against an employer. Employers should seek legal professional assistance to develop hiring practices that prevent discrimination and foreclose on any discretionary hiring methods that constitute “reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred,” such as

  1. Selectively requesting additional documents from applicants who appear foreign
  2. Exceeding Form I-9 identification instructions
  3. Improper inquiry into employee’s visa status

Moreover, an injured party may bring an additional civil action against the employer. While the nature and severity of the charges will determine the weight of penalties the OSC will charge an employer, pre-trial settlement can be accomplished by satisfying claims through:

  1. Issuing Back Pay
  2. Reinstatement of discharged employee
  3. Hiring employees
  4. Injunctions
  5. Training management and staff
  6. Monitoring labor law compliance
  7. Paying Fines for discriminatory practices

The OSC is adamant that they run a transparent agency, utilizing their website to issue press releases regarding claim settlements. Case resolution is available to the public and is a good indicator of the severity of fines associated with discriminatory practices.

A settlement in May between the OSC and Imagine Schools, posted online fined the school:

  • $600 civil penalty to the U.S. Department of Treasury
  • $20,169 in back pay to the employee with interest and fees
  • Mandatory employee training over the next 18 months
  • Ongoing access to company records by the agency to monitor future compliance

Because the OSC has a wealth of resources dedicated to the single mission of preventing discrimination related to citizenship status, employers must eradicate discriminatory hiring practices to avoid penalties and fees. Our office has a wealth of experience in developing industry specific best practices to help your company prevent workplace discrimination. To protect your business and your employees please contact one of our immigration professionals at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or call 562 612.3996.

 

 

 

I-9 Form, ICE Audit, E-Verify: Recent Blog Posts

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Here is a selection of some of our more recent and popular blog posts:

I-9 Form Compliance:  What’s Hidden in your Paperwork

I-9 News:  ICE Inspection I-9 Overview

I-9 Audit Case Study:  Ketchikan Drywall Services

Important Electronic Vendor Guidance

What are Technical and Substantive Violations?

Employer Fined for Discrimination

SSA No-Match Letters:  OSC’s Position on Employer Action

I-9 Penalties:  Highest Civil Penalty Assessed Since Enactment of Anti-Discrimination Provisions

Gov. Brown Signs Bill Prohibiting E-Verify for Local Governments in CA

E-Verify Self Check Releases in 16 More States and is also in Spanish

I-9 | E-Verify News for June 2011

Friday, June 10th, 2011

In our June Newsletter we cover what’s new in employer compliance:  New I-9 Employer Handbook, new Q&A for I-9 and E-Verify, the new E-Verify RIDE interface and other information to assist you with staying current and developing a compliant workforce.

For more information regarding our services, please contact our office, 562 612.3996 or via email at info@immigrationsolution.net.

I-9 Form Podcast, Part II | Immigration Solutions

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

This is part 2 in our I-9 podcast series where we discuss:

Podcast-5-4-11.mp3

1)  Correcting the I-9 Form
2)  Storage and Retention
3)  Technical and Substantive Violations and fines
4)  I-9 Best Practices

Please contact us to discuss your I-9 compliance needs.  We have a very talented team who are experts and are ready to assist you.


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