What Is Employer Immigration Compliance?

United States Compliance Standards

Immigration compliance requires United States employers to follow specific rules to hire foreign workers legally. Compliance doesn’t end when your employee starts working; it’s an ongoing process that requires thorough documentation and timely filing. If you fail to meet your obligations, you could have to pay high fines or even lose the ability to sponsor workers.

If you are interested in hiring foreign nationals to work for you in the United States, the attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates can help. Our legal team can walk you through every stage of employer immigration compliance and implement best practices to keep your workforce on track.

Common Documents Needed to Hire Foreign Workers

Before hiring international personnel, you must meet various standards set by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS documentation you will need varies by the type and duration of employment, but the most common forms include the following:

Form I-9

Form I-9 is an employment eligibility verification document required under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). It confirms each employee’s identity, national origin, and work authorization.

All U.S. employers must complete a Form I-9 for each new hire, and the employer and the employee must sign the I-9s. Our firm regularly oversees I-9 compliance for employers and can help your company meet its obligations under the law.

Learn More About I-9 Audits and Compliance

Public Access Files

Public access files, or public examination files, are files that U.S. employers must maintain for all their H-1B employees. You must include specific documents in these files; anyone can request to view them. Requirements for maintaining public access files can be complicated, but our team can help you correctly set these up.

Learn More About E-Verify

Labor Certification

Employers must obtain a labor certification stating that the foreign workers they intend to employ will not displace qualified U.S. workers. Labor certificates do not guarantee a visa and must be secured before applying.

Employment Authorization Document

Form I-766 is the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), a work permit. An EAD allows green card applicants living in the United States to legally work in “open market” positions anywhere in the nation.

Of course, these are just the initial documents needed to hire foreign workers. Various employment-based visas have specific requirements, including those for family members of employees and potential paths to citizenship. Our immigration lawyers can assist you in securing the correct work permits and visas based on your business needs.

Penalties for Immigration Compliance Violations

The Department of Labor (DOL) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can perform audits to ensure employers have these documents in order. Audits can occur at any time and without advanced notice.

If any violations are discovered, your company could face one or more of the following:

  • Fines. Employers caught violating compliance rules face hefty fines and potential legal action. You don’t need to knowingly hire unauthorized workers to face legal penalties; failure to complete forms or secure required documents can constitute non-compliance.
  • Loss of sponsorship. Employers could lose the ability to sponsor future visas, severely compromising their innovation and future opportunities.
  • Reputational damage. Non-compliance can impact customer perception, damaging your professional reputation and your profitability.

Tips to Maintain Employer Immigration Compliance

Any company with foreign workers needs to stay compliant with employer immigration laws. Here are a few practical tips for ensuring employment authorization continuity:

  • Keep accurate records. Incorrect or incomplete employment records can easily lead to violations. At a minimum, employers should ensure that each employee and contractor has a Form I-9 and that H-1B workers comply with public access file rules. Double-check the information you have on file at regular intervals.
  • Conduct internal audits. Regular internal audits allow you to catch and resolve minor issues before they lead to non-compliance. They also help identify major oversights before the next external government audit, saving you significant time and money.
  • Use E-Verify. E-Verify is the federal government’s free, Internet-based employment eligibility verification program. Operated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security, E-Verify matches an employee’s Form I-9 with U.S. government records. A match indicates that an employee is eligible to work in the U.S.; a mismatch alerts the employer.
  • Visa tracking. You should maintain an internal database of your foreign workers’ visa and work authorization expiration dates and applications for permanent residency. Visa holders are responsible for updating their documents as they expire so work authorization does not lapse. To minimize business disruption, coordinate with employees to start the visa renewal process as early as possible.

Have Questions? Ask an Immigration Attorney!

The attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. understand the complexities of immigration law and will answer your questions with expertise and care. Attorney Lindsay Fullerton has extensive experience in immigration compliance, guiding you through the process so your business stays on track. Schedule a consultation today to continue operations with confidence.

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