Does Your Business Have an Immigration Compliance Plan?
As the year end approaches, companies should take this time to review their immigration policies or develop consistent immigration policies. It may be difficult for many employers to keep up with and ensure compliance with all the ever-changing regulations and laws pertaining to the hiring and employment verification of employees. As the government continues to focus on strictly enforcing immigration laws that apply to businesses, worksite enforcement actions continue to rise. Businesses can avoid such actions by proactively developing and enforcing internal policies to prevent liability.
The Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) can all initiate certain enforcement actions or audits against businesses. If one of these three agencies initiates an investigation, the other may follow up with additional inquiries or actions.
Businesses most frequently face the following immigration-related actions:
- Employment Eligibility Verification (form I-9) audits conducted by ICE
- H-1B Wage & Hour Public Access File audits conducted by DOL
- H-1B, L-1, and R visa related site visits conducted by the FDNS Division of USCIS
Well thought-out and consistently implemented compliance policies can help prepare for and sometimes avoid investigations, financial penalties, and criminal consequences. First off, a thorough immigration compliance program can prevent attracting attention from government agencies. In a worst case scenario, where there is a government action, the existence of a good compliance plan can reduce the level of violations. This is because a compliance plan usually evidences an employer’s “good faith” effort to maintain a legal workforce.
In creating a compliance plan, a company should work with experienced attorneys to review and identify possible issues that could lead to a government audit. Every business should also establish comprehensive, organization-wide policies and practices that will predict and prevent foreseeable immigration-related liabilities. These policies should focus on how immigration documents, such as I-9s, and government investigations will be handled.
Ivener & Fullmer, LLP is a business immigration law firm. We serve business owners, human resource professionals, and in-house counsel in public and private companies, as well as international business people, investors, and entertainers. For more information on how we can assist you, please contact one of our partners in our Los Angeles office.