Monday, September 12, 2016

I-9 Compliance for Employers: Significantly Increased Fines for Employers

by John R. LaBar, Esq.

To aid in the enforcement of the obligation on employers to hire only individuals authorized to work, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (the “IRCA”) requires employers to verify the employment eligibility of all new employees at the time they are hired. Every employee hired to perform labor or services in return for wages or other remuneration must complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9). The most recent version of Form I-9 has an issuance date of March 8, 2013 with an expiration date of March 31, 2016; however, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has directed that employees should, until further notice, continuing using the current Form until a new form is issued. 

Read More
Monday, August 1, 2016

I-9 Compliance: When the Way We've Always Done It Isn't Good Enough

By Kathleen Gasparian, Esq.

Say the words “I-9 compliance” in a room of business owners or human resource specialists and listen for the small groans and watch for the inevitable eye rolls. I-9 compliance isn't sexy or exciting; it's frustrating and tedious. It is meticulous and deceptively simple paperwork that goes against our instincts of human interaction, but it is also one where an empty field can equal a fine.

Read More
Thursday, July 14, 2016

What Does a Divided Court Mean for Deferred Action Programs?

by Greg McLawsen, Esq.

In a recent decision that disappointed millions of immigrant families, the Supreme Court issued a tied decision in United States v. Texas. This decision means that executive program created by the Obama administration—which might have benefited at least 4 million undocumented immigrants—is now on hold.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA 1.0) program was created by the Obama administration four years ago in June 2012. The program gave a limited form of immigration relief to certain foreign nationals who had entered the United States as young children (under age 16).

Read More
Monday, June 20, 2016

The Whys and Hows of Education and/or Experience Evaluations in the Context of H-1B Visa Preparation and Filing

by David H. Nachman, Esq.; Michael Phulwani, Esq.; and Rabindra K. Singh, Esq.

Most of the prospective H-1B employees and H-1B employers begin with either of the following two thoughts:

"I would like to work in the U.S. using an H-1B visa, but am not sure if I qualify" or
"I want to hire a foreign worker but not sure if the individual qualifies for an H-1B visa."

In order to successfully obtain an H-1B visa, it is mandatory that not only the prospective H-1B employee but both the proffered position and prospective employee should qualify for the H-1B visa. This article will explore the importance of educational and/or experience evaluations, and explain certain precautions that an employer and/or prospective H-1B employee can take in order to avoid a potential Request for Evidence (RFE) and/or denial of the H-1B nonimmigrant petition.

Read More
Thursday, June 9, 2016

Not Every Degree Qualifies Foreign Nationals for H-1B Master’s Cap

by David H. Nachman, Esq.; Michael Phulwani, Esq.; and Rabindra K. Singh, Esq.

Many foreign nationals holding an F-1 nonimmigrant status in the United States, especially those who are engaged in Optional Practical Training (OPT), often intend to change their nonimmigrant status to become a professional specialty workers (H-1B workers). Most foreign nationals seeking H-1B nonimmigrant classification are subject to the 58,200 annual cap.[1] There are an additional 20,000 H-1B visas which are reserved specifically for foreign nationals who receive a master's degree (or a higher degree) from a United States college or university.[2]

Read More
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Now Is the Time to Think About Your H-1B Back-Up Plan

by David H. Nachman, Esq.; Michael Phulwani, Esq.; and Rabindra K. Singh, Esq.

On April 7, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has reached the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption.

USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 9, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption.

With uncertainty looming large as to who may or may not get selected in the H-1B lottery, it is time that H-1B visa hopefuls (and their prospective H-1B employers) start to explore other nonimmigrant work visa options to allow them to work and live in the United States on a temporary basis.

Read More
Thursday, May 5, 2016

DAPA Decision in the Hands of the Supreme Court

by Adrian Roe, Esq.

In June of the this year the United States Supreme Court may decide the legality of the Obama Administration's Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Resident's program ("DAPA"). The case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, was argued before the Supreme Court on April 18, 2016.

In many respects the DAPA case is comparable to the prior "Obamacare" decision as its presents the issue of the legality one of the Obama Administration's hallmark initiatives.

Read More
Monday, December 7, 2015

Immigration Executive Action Headed to the High Court

by Christian G.A. Zeller, Esq.

After Congress' inability to pass immigration reform of any kind, there was much excitement in the immigrant community when, as a result, President Obama announced immigration executive action in November 2014.

Among many other improvements to our broken immigration system, the announcement called for deferred action and three-year work authorizations for nearly 4.3 million undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children.

Shortly after the executive action announcement, twenty-six states, led by Texas, filed suit, challenging the President's authority and alleging undue financial burdens on the states. As a result, a district court in Texas ordered an injunction on the executive action programs days before its scheduled implementation in February 2015.

Read More
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Record Fines Being Issued to Employers for Immigration Violations

by Bruce E. Buchanan, Esq.

Immigration compliance is becoming more and more important for employers. In the current fiscal year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is on track to fine employers about $16 million.

Additionally, ICE has received $5 million for criminal forfeitures and fines to date in this fiscal year. Last month, ICE fined Broetje Orchards $2.25 million, the largest civil worksite penalty on record against any business in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. Recently, the head of ICE's Worksite Enforcement, Donald Buechner, stated ICE was emphasizing criminal prosecutions that arise out of civil investigations. Buechner explained too many companies see I-9 fines as "part of doing business."

Read More
Monday, May 18, 2015

How to De-ICE Your Business

by Bruce E. Buchanan, Esq.

The importance of immigration compliance continues to grow as more and more companies realize the negative consequences of violating the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). In this article, we will explore how to avoid these negative consequences.

For FY 2014, over 3,100 employers were served with Notices of Inspections (NOIs). Of these NOIs, many of them ended with an assessment of a penalty/fine based upon the numerous substantive violations cited by ICE. Since the percentage of alleged violations is often 50% or more, the penalty would be $935 per violation plus or minus any aggravating/mitigating factors.

Read More