Tag Archives: Immigration

What Does Presidents Exec Order on Undocumented Individuals Mean for Your Organization?

22 Nov

President Barack Obama’s announcement of executive action to expand the population of currently undocumented individuals who will be allowed to remain and work legally in the U.S. will take time and many details to fully understand.
In the President’s November 20, 2014, televised address to the nation, key initiatives of the President’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions include:
• Expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Currently, certain individuals who arrived in the United States as children are eligible for DACA protection and corresponding employment authorization. The announced executive action will expand the pool of individuals eligible for the DACA program and extend the period of DACA status and corresponding employment authorization from two years to three years.
• Creation of Deferred Action for Parents (DAP): This new program will allow parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (of any age) who have been continuously present in the United States since January 1, 2010, and who pass background checks and pay taxes, to be eligible to apply for deferred action and corresponding employment authorization. DAP status and employment authorization will be for a three-year period.
Estimates are that up to five million currently undocumented individuals may be eligible for Deferred Action. While individuals granted Deferred Action will be eligible for work authorization, employers must be particularly cautious in addressing current employees who may come forward under these initiatives. Until employees actually present such official documentation, if they come forward to you, that will be evidence of their being unlawfully employed and you must terminate them under current Federal law or be liable for knowing employment of undocumented aliens.
The President also announced new efforts to increase the responsiveness of the employment-based legal immigration system to the needs of employers, some of which may affect your organization. These efforts include:
• Employment Authorization for H-1B Dependents: Currently, H-4 dependents of holders of H-1B non-immigration visas are precluded from employment. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will finalize and promulgate a rule to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders who are on the path to lawful permanent resident status.
• Expansion of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for Foreign Students and Graduates from U.S. Universities: Currently, students enrolled in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) academic degree program may gain practical training work authorization for 17 months in addition to the 12-month period typically available for post-graduate practical training employment. New regulations will expand and extend the use of OPT for foreign students, consistent with existing law.
• Greater Consistency in the L-1B Visa Program: For years, employers have sought guidance and clarity regarding the definition of “specialized knowledge” employees under the L-1B non-immigration program to better assess their prospective employees’ qualifications and prepare petitions accordingly. USCIS has stated that it will issue clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “specialized knowledge” as early as this year or the beginning of 2015.
• Increasing Worker Portability: USCIS will issue guidance with respect to the types of job changes that constitute “same or similar” jobs under current law. It also will remove unnecessary restrictions on natural career progression and general job mobility to provide relief to workers facing lengthy adjustment delays. Similarly, the adjustment process for individuals who are the beneficiaries of approved I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker will be amended by regulation so the sponsored worker is eligible to file for adjustment of status sooner.
While it will be months before many of the initiatives will be fully implemented, employers should begin preparing for these changes now, including inquiries from employees regarding the impact of this far-reaching executive action.
Thanks to Jackson Lewis p.c. for information for this article.

Get Your I-9 Records in Shape -Audits and Enforcement Will Continue As Congress Debates Immigration Reform

9 Feb

If you thought you could relax your effort to maintain complete and accurate I-9 employee records because Congress will possibly pass immigration reform, think again. Are you aware that the U.S. Government spends more money on immigration enforcement than all other law enforcement combined?
A recent nonpartisan report from the Migration Policy Institute notes that the federal government spent $18 billion on immigration-related enforcement programs, an amount far greater than the combined budgets of the FBI, ATF, DEA and Secret Service (in fact, nearly $4 billion more). According to the report, “judging by resource levels, case volumes, and enforcement actions . . . immigration enforcement can thus be seen to rank as the federal government’s highest criminal law enforcement priority.”
In addition, resources spent by other agencies involved in immigration-related enforcement are not included in the $18 billion figure (for example, U.S. Customs & Immigration Service, Dept. of Labor, and Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel, not to mention state resources directed to immigration-related enforcement). There is no question that there has been a significant increase in immigration enforcement in recent years. Between 2005 and 2012, ICE’s funding alone increased from $3 billion to nearly $6 billion. There is also no question that the level of immigration enforcement seen in recent years will only continue. Employers should continue using the Form I-9 currently available on the forms section of http://www.uscis.gov. This form should continue to be used even after the OMB control number expiration date of August 31, 2012 has passed. USCIS will provide updated information about the new version of the Form I-9 as it becomes available.
Employers must complete Form I-9 for all newly-hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States.
Civil fines for form I-9 violations can range from $110 to $16,000 per violation, with repeat offenders receiving higher penalties.
You can keep up to date with I-9 requirements at Customs & Immigration Service’s I-9 Central
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=84c267ee5cb38210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=84c267ee5cb38210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD

Department of Homeland Security and ICE have stated they plan to continue if not increase aggressive enforcement against employers.