Immigration & Compliance Issues

Serotte Reich Wilson, LLP is dedicated to addressing the needs of Human Resource professionals.  We understand that foreign national employees are an important asset and that department heads and managers look to HR for immigration solutions. Coordinating your company’s immigration matters does not have to be a perpetual nightmare.  In this section, and throughout our web site, you can find immigration resources and information that will help you handle immigration issues more efficiently.

In addition to substantive immigration issues, you will also find information that addresses employee verification and compliance issues.  It is clear the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) want to address the practice of hiring illegal workers and overhaul current employment verification and employer sanction programs.  I-9 audits are on the rise, E-Verify continues to grow, and the Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) arm of USCIS has expanded its unannounced visits.

These increased enforcement initiatives have shifted gears from targeting undocumented foreign nationals to targeting U.S. employers.  The government is looking to mete out punishment for illegal workers here in the U.S. and employers are the easiest target.  A diligent and prudent employer must be prepared and work now to implement a corporate immigration compliance plan that addresses internal I-9 audits, H-1B public access files, PERM audit files and E-Verify applicability.

  • The I-9 Process: The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requires that employers verify the identity and eligibility for employment of every employee they hire. Unfortunately, identifying whether an employee is authorized for employment can prove tedious and confusing.  Employers must resist the urge to take short cuts or ignore I-9 issues because failing to comply can lead to hefty fines and additional civil and/or criminal penalties.  Read More.
  • E-Verify and the Federal Contractor Rule:E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) that allows employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of employees.  E-Verify checks information provided from the I-9 form against records contained in DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases.The Federal Contractor Rule (FAR) requires certain federal contractors to use E-Verify to electronically verify the employment eligibility of employees.  The rule requires certain federal contractors to agree, through language included into the federal contract, to use E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of all persons they hire during a contract term, as well as current employees who perform work under a federal contract within the U.S.  (It does not apply to employees hired before November 7, 1986.)  This new rule applies to certain federal contracts awarded after September 8, 2009.  Read More.
  • PERM Labor Certification Considerations:For most foreign nationals, the labor certification process, which is conducted by DOL, is the first step in the three-step process of obtaining employment-based lawful permanent residence (LPR) status. The second stage of the LPR process is the I-140 Immigrant Petition, filed by the employer with USCIS. The third stage is the employee’s application for permanent residency, filed either as an Adjustment of Status application with USCIS, or through the appropriate U.S. consulate abroad. There are specific challenges at each stage of processing, and this memo focuses specifically on those presented by labor certification itself. Read more.
  • Under a rule change that took place in July 2007, the employer is now required to cover any expenses for the PERM labor certification process—first stage of the green card process. The rule change requires employers to pay all fees and expenses relating to the Application for Permanent Employment Certification process (PERM) and prohibits employers from requesting reimbursement for these expenses.  The new rule also eliminated the substitution of foreign nationals into previously approved PERM applications and created a validity period of 180 days for approved PERM applications.
  • Pursuant to this rule change, employers cannot require foreign nationals to pay any costs or expenses related to the PERM labor certification process, nor can they seek reimbursement for these expenses at a later date. This rule does not, however, prohibit employers from seeking reimbursement for the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) or for Immigrant Visa Processing (IVP) or Adjustment of Status.  Read More.