Social Security No-Match Letters Resume

April 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

As of April 6, 2011, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has resumed issuing Social Security no match letters to US employers. No match letters are issued when an employee’s name and Social Security Number do not match.  The source of the mismatch could include typographical errors, name changes and incomplete information, as well as fabricated Social Security Numbers.

These letters – and the legal follow-up requirements and ramifications – have been the subject of litigation for years.  Since the court battle has not yet finished, the new letters have removed the specific guidance for how employers are legally required to respond.  Immigration Customs and Enforcement, SSA, and the Office of Special Counsel do agree that the mere receipt of a no match letter is not evidence that the employee is using fraudulent documents and is not authorized to work, but these letters have been used against employers to prove that the employer knowingly continued to employ an undocumented worker given the totality of the circumstances.

Employers must establish effective strategies to address no match letters in a lawful yet non-discriminatory manner. Gone are the days when employers can cover their eyes and look through their fingers. It is critical for employers to address any no match letters that are received immediately.  Employers should also consider completing an internal I-9 audit to ensure their I-9 forms have been completed properly.

If you receive a Social Security No-Match Letter, please contact GoffWilson immediately. In addition, GoffWilson is available to answer questions relating to these matters: info@goffwilson.com.

President of Chicago Staffing Agency Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

February 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

The president of two Chicago staffing agencies, Can Do It Inc., and Anna II, Inc, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for knowingly hiring illegal aliens. In addition to this sentence, Clinton Roy Perkins, 66, was ordered to forfeit $465,178 in proceeds obtained as a result of his criminal activity. The arrest and February 16 sentencing was a result of a worksite enforcement investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2010.

According to an ICE press release, the illegal workers hired by Perkins were not asked to provide documents that verified immigration status or lawful right to work in the United States.

“We will hold employers accountable for their actions,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Chicago. “Mr. Perkins knowingly hired an illegal workforce and circumvented our nation’s immigration laws for financial gain.”

To read the full press release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, click here.

M-274 Handbook for Employers: A Must-Have Resource

October 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

M-274 Handbook for Employers - Save it to your desktop and keep it handy.

The most recent version of the M-274 Handbook for Employers was updated on 1/5/11. M-274 Handbook for Employers is a must-have resource, prepared by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and covers all things I-9. Below is an outline from the Handbook’s table of contents. M-274 Handbook for Employers covers:

  • Obtaining Form I-9 and the M-274
  • Why Employers Must Verify Employment Authorization and Identity of New Employees
  • Completing the Form I-9
  • Photocopying and Retaining Form I-9
  • Unlawful Discrimination and Penalties for Prohibited Practices
  • Instructions for Recruiters and Referrers for a Fee
  • E-Verify
  • Questions about the I-9 Form
  • Acceptable Document for Verifying Employment Authorization and Identity

Download M-274 Handbook for Employers – you will always find a link to the most recent version on the left-hand side of The Immigration bLAWg, under links. Save it to your desktop for quick reference, or print the document, but, keep it close by. The M-274 Handbook for Employers, along with advanced I-9 and E-Verify training is significant step for achieving compliance.

If you have questions regarding M-274 Handbook, please email or call GoffWilson: info@goffwilson.com, 603.228.1277.

Nationwide Increase of Immigration Enforcement Against Employers

October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Clothing retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch is not immune from ICE. A $1,047,110 fine settlement was imposed in September.

Employers are being targeted nationwide for immigration audits by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Since 2009, the strategy employed by ICE to reduce the number of illegal immigrants to the U.S. is to focus on employers. ICE has imposed a record number of civil and criminal penalties against employers who violate immigration laws. In FY 2010, ICE conducted more than 2,200 I-9 audits — up from a little more than 1,400 in FY 2009.

Employers can be fined up to $1,100 for each illegal employee, even if the employer is unknowingly hiring an undocumented worker. An alarming example of this – the clothing retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch recently incurred a $1,047,110 fine settlement for violations stemming from a November 2008 Form I-9 inspection of retails stores in Michigan. According to an ICE press release, “The audit uncovered numerous technology-related deficiencies in Abercrombie & Fitch’s electronic I-9 verification system. …no instances of the knowing hire of unauthorized aliens were discovered.”

There is no sign of concession as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to target U.S. employers in an effort to control illegal immigration. Employers must be well-informed of their responsibilities and carefully execute internal systems used to manage the employment process. The I-9 Form is a crucial component.

Unfortunately, as ICE imposes a record number of raids, training for employers is lacking. As a response, GoffWilson has created the comprehensive training seminar, “Form I-9 and E-Verify: What You Need To Know.” GoffWilson also provides I-9 Audits for employers concerned with the state of their I-9 Forms, and training for employees who manage the employment process.

If your company receives a legal notification from ICE, you have typically have three business days to respond. Contact GoffWilson immediately.

Announcing Form I-9 and E-Verify seminar for November 2010

October 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Knowledge is power in the changing landscape of federal immigration enforcement.

GoffWilson, an immigration law firm with offices in New Hampshire and abroad, announces an encore presentation of the winning seminar for Employers and Human Resource Professionals, “Form I-9 & E-Verify: What You Need To Know 2010”. Back by popular demand for the third time, the training workshop will take place on Thursday, November 18, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Delta Dental Auditorium in Concord, NH.

Participants earn three Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) continuing education credit hours for completing the training.

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President Obama Delivers Immigration Speech

July 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

President Obama Delivers Immigration Speech at American University

Today President Obama gave his first speech directly addressing the topic of Immigration Reform.

Although the President did not outline specific details for moving forward with Immigration Reform, he did emphasize the need and importance of reform. In his speech, President Obama acknowledged the issue as “thorny and emotional,” while stressing his belief that the system is broken.

President Obama said that the U.S. is implementing and improving the system that gives employers the ability to verify their employees‘ immigration status, although he did not provide specific details. He added that businesses who employ illegal immigrants will be held responsible:

“Businesses must be held accountable if they break the law by deliberately hiring and exploiting undocumented workers. We’ve already begun to step up enforcement against the worst workplace offenders. And we’re implementing and improving a system to give employers a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally. But we need to do more. We cannot continue just to look the other way as a significant portion of our economy operates outside the law.”

For a through overview of President Obama’s speech, visit this article by USA Today. For a complete transcript of his speech, visit the White House website.

As news emerges on this important topic, GoffWilson will keep readers of The Immigration bLAWg updated.

Business Owner and Manager Indicted for Employing Undocumented Workers

May 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

Aerial photo of Can Do It, Inc., 801 Golf Lane, Bensenville, Illinois

Last week the president and office manager of two staffing companies operating from the same business location were charged with hiring undocumented employees. Clinton Roy Perkins, the president, and Christopher Reindl, the manager, operate two staffing companies, Anna II, Inc and Can Do It, Inc., from 801 Golf Lane, Bensenville, Illinois. The indictment alleges that both men hired more than ten employees with actual knowledge that the individuals were undocumented and had been brought into the United States in violation of the law.

Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE office of Investigation in Chicago, stated, “ICE is committed to ensuring that employers are held accountable for maintaining a legal workforce. The goal of our enforcement effort is two-fold – reduce the demand for illegal employment, and protect job opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce.”

If convicted, the indictment seeks forfeiture of both business and personal assets. In addition, hiring undocumented workers carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

This indictment is consistent with the stated policy of the Obama administration: enforce the laws that prohibit U.S. employers from hiring undocumented workers to eliminate the demand of illegal immigration.

Since the focus of the worksite enforcement investigations has shifted to the employer, employers should verify that their I-9 forms are being properly completed and retained.

GoffWilson Announces Form I-9 and E-Verify Seminar For 2010

May 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

Navigating the rough seas of immigration law demands that companies wear life preservers for safety.  GoffWilson announces an encore performance of last year’s winning seminar for Employers and Human Resource Professionals, “Form I-9 & E-Verify: What You Need To Know 2010”.  Back by popular demand, the training workshop will take place on Friday, June 4, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Delta Dental Auditorium in Concord, NH. Participants earn three Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) continuing education credit hours for completing the training.

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Employers Still Held Accountable for Info In No-Match Letters

April 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Michel Malecot, Owner The French Gourmet

On April 21, 2010, a sixteen count indictment was unsealed that alleges the owner, manager, and The French Gourmet, a San Diego bakery, knowingly employed undocumented workers. Michel Malecot, the owner of the bakery, and Richard Kauffmann, a manager, are charged with twelve felony counts of making false statements and shielding undocumented employees from detection. If convicted, they face a maximum of five years in prison for each count, a $250,000 fine for each count, and three years of supervised release. The indictment is also seeking criminal forfeiture of the company’s proceeds that were gained from the business’ unlawful activities, including the company’s building that is valued at $1.3 million according to county records. Both men entered not guilty pleas and posted bail.

The government has built the case on the no-match letters from the Social Security Administration and records seized by a warrant in May 2008. Social Security no-match letters are issued by the Social Security Administration and notify an employer that the names and numbers of specific employees do not match.

The indictment alleges that, after receiving no-match letters from the Social Security Administration, the managers paid the employees in cash until a new set of documents with different Social Security numbers were provided.

Employers should seek legal advice if they have received Social Security no-match letters in the past. This indictment shows that employers are still being held accountable for the information contained in the no-match letters.

Notice of Inspection? Subpoena? Lots of Documents, Little Time

November 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

As we reported last week, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently issued 1,000 Notices of Inspection to employers across the US. It appears that in many instances, these Notices are accompanied by a subpoena. Whereas the Notice requires employers to present only their I-9 forms, the subpoenas are much more comprehensive and require employers to produce the following:

 

  • Original I-9 forms and copies of supporting documents
  • Employee roster or payroll
  • Monthly payroll reports
  • Copies of State Wage Detail Reports and Unemployment Insurance Quarterly Tax Reports
  • Copies of Quarterly Tax Statements
  • Independent Contactor Rosters including dates of hire and termination
  • Copies of Tax Form 1099 for all independent contractors
  • Lists of all individuals employed on a sporadic, irregular or intermittent basis and not deemed to be an employee
  • Copies of Social Security Administration Employer Correction Requests
  • Copies of petitions filed with the Immigration Service on behalf of employees
  • Copies of the business’s articles of incorporation, business license and annual reports
  • Employer Identification Number (EIC) and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) documentation
  • Copies of all company procedures and/or policies regarding Form I-9 preparation

Employers are also being asked to provide information about use of temporary staffing agencies, participation in E-Verify, and any previous I-9 inspections by the Department of Labor. Employers typically have less than a week to gather, prepare and present all of these items.

If your company receives a Notice of Inspection with or without a subpoena you must act immediately. Contact us, we can help.

If you’d like help getting your files, Form I-9s and policies in place before there is a knock at the door, we can help with that too.

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