New England Companies Face I-9 Violations for American Workers

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has fined almost 50 New England businesses more than $600,000 in this past year for I-9 violations. This is a huge increase over the previous year and all indications are that these fines will increase again next year.

As stated in its announcement, the immigration service plans to expand the number of businesses audited next year. As noted, the Obama administration has made I-9 enforcement against businesses a priority to weed out undocumented workers and employees in industries known or alleged to hire undocumented workers.

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How Formal is the Formal Rulemaking Process?

June 1, 2012 § 1 Comment

According to USCIS, I-9 Central is a website that has been created to assist employers with the completion, maintenance and storage of the I-9 form.

“I-9 Central provides critical information for all employers – whether they hire a single employee or hundreds – in an accessible, intuitive and comprehensive online format,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas when the website premiered in 2011.

Since that time, I-9 Central continuously adds content that creates guidelines for employers to follow without being vetted through the formal rulemaking process.

Why should we care about the formal rulemaking process?  Good question!
For one thing,  it allows the public and other governmental agencies to comment on intended and unintended consequences of proposed rules.  Thus, while the formal rulemaking process may be long and tedious, it does have value.   This process is particularly helpful when multiple agencies have an interest in a process or procedure, as in the case with Form I-9.

For example, the Form I-9 is issued by the USCIS and enforced by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). The I-9 process is then carefully monitored by the Office of Special Counsel (“OSC”) for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices which enforces the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Here’s an example why the formal rulemaking process matters:
I-9 Central recently posted that a U.S. Certificate of Naturalization is an acceptable List C document. However, USCIS specifically removed the Certificate of Naturalization from List A of the List of Acceptable Documents in November 2007 because it did not contain “security features to make it resistant to tampering, counterfeiting, and fraudulent use.”  Since the formal rulemaking process was not followed, employers have no independent assurances that either ICE or OSC will accept the guidance as proper procedure when enforcing the law or sanctioning employers.  Additionally, USCIS could potentially remove this guidance from their website and employers would have no independent record that it had relied upon this guidance from USCIS at the time the decision was made to rely upon a U.S. Certificate of Naturalization.

Our belief is that I-9 Central may be creating more questions than solutions for employers even though USCIS actively promotes the site as the go-to locale for all employers. Employers should use extreme caution when relying upon the guidance posted on I-9 Central.  We suggest you contact us if you have any doubts about I-9’s. It is what we do!

Workshop Tackles the Nuts and Bolts of Form I-9

October 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I-9 Workshop

On October 13, attorneys John Wilson and Grace Miller gave a lively presentation on Form I-9 and E-Verify to members of the River Valley Human Resources Association in Claremont, NH. We would like to thank all the participants for asking many great, engaging questions, and of course extend a big thank you to Claremont Savings Bank for hosting us in their conference room.

In addition to providing an in-depth look at each section of the I-9 Form and the Lists of Acceptable Documents, attorneys Wilson and Miller explained E-Verify, how it relates to the I-9 Form, and what obligations are created when employers enroll in the program. Participants left the workshop with a better understanding of the I-9 form and why it’s frequently called the most complicated one page form ever created!

Each participant received GoffWilson’s coveted I-9 Form Reference Workbook, which past participants have said they use every time a new person is hired. GoffWilson attorneys have carefully tailored this workbook to be a practical, step-by-step guide to completing the I-9 Form. The workbook also provides examples of correctly completed I-9 Forms, frequently asked questions, and examples that can help you spot I-9 errors  before they become a legal headache.

We would like to extend a special thank you to the participants who asked us to stay longer to review additional examples and ask questions.  If you were unable to attend this workshop and you are interested in Form I-9 related training, please stay tuned to GoffWilson’s I-9 Blawg.  Additional presentations will be offered soon. They will be announced on our Blawg and our social media accounts, so be sure to bookmark us and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If you are interested in hosting a workshop for your organization, please visit the I-9 training and seminars page on our website.

Thank you again to all of the participants for a great workshop!

Another Great I-9 & E-Verify Seminar! Thanks to All Attendees!

September 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

Thank you to all of the participants who attended our seminar, “Form I-9 & E-Verify: What You Need To Know – 2011” yesterday at Northeast Delta Dental in Concord, New Hampshire. We would like to thank Northeast Delta Dental for providing the venue – as well as a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste for each participant! We had an engaging workshop with lots of great questions.

Participants included private employers, public employers, not-for-profit organizations, and government entities of all sizes. To make sure we’re addressing the needs of our attendees, we like to survey participants soon after the seminar. If you would like to take part in this brief survey, please click here.

In addition to the yummy breakfast, participants left with an in-depth understanding of I-9 form completion and retention requirements. Attorneys John Wilson and Grace Miller demystified E-Verify and the employer’s obligations created by enrolling in the program.

Each participant was given GoffWilson’s sought-after I-9 form reference workbook, which past participants have said they use every time a new person is hired. Using this workbook, participants were given the opportunity to put pen to paper and complete sample I-9 forms that were filled with common issues and problems. Workshop participants then applied their knowledge and skillfully spotted errors on sample I-9 forms.

GoffWilson has certified this course for HRCI credit. Participants who needed PHR/SPHR certification received 3 hours of HRCI credit.

Thank you again to all of the participants and Northeast Delta Dental for a great work!

The Receipt Rule: Lost, Stolen or Damaged I-9 Documents

April 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

What if an employee tells you, “My dog ate my passport?”

As most employers and HR professionals know, a new employee must complete Section 1 of the I-9 Form at “the time of hire,” or before completing the first day of employment. In addition, the employee must present original documents to prove identity and work authorization, to the employer, prior to the end of the third day of employment. If an employer hires a person for fewer than three business days, the I-9 procedure must be completed before employment may commence. For a detailed, handy timeline, download the free I-9 Completion Timeline.

What if an employee tells you, “My dog ate my passport?”

Receipt Rule: Lost, Stolen or Damaged Documents
If an employee’s original document was lost, stolen or damaged, the employee may present a receipt for the application of a replacement document. The original replacement document must be presented to the employer within ninety (90) days of hire. Please note: receipts for applications to renew or extend a document may not be accepted under the receipt rule.

Upon reviewing the original replacement document, the employer should update the I-9 using the appropriate method outline in the Handbook for Employers (M-274). A link to this handbook can be found on the left-hand side of the blog, under Blogroll.

For answers to specific questions regarding the I-9 Form, please contact GoffWilson.

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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ALERT: ICE to Serve More Than 500 New Notices of Inspection

September 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) released the following announcement:

“Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed to AILA that the agency is serving more than 500 Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to companies throughout the U.S. this week. According to ICE, the audits flow in large part from leads about employers who allegedly are engaging in hiring unauthorized workers and paying employees unfair wages or otherwise exploiting workers.”

As information is released, GoffWilson will advise blawg readers. If your company is contacted by ICE, you will only have three business days to produce all of your I-9 forms. Along with the I-9 forms, ICE will also frequently ask for additional documents including payroll records, a list of currently employees, and business licenses. Contact GoffWilson if you receive a Notice of Inspection and before responding, as this is usually the first step of an audit and/or investigation. You may contact GoffWilson regarding this matter or related I-9 compliance issues.

Click here to view ICE’s Factsheet for I-9 Inspections.

2010 Form I-9 & E-Verify Seminar A Success!

June 8, 2010 § 1 Comment

We would like to extend a special thanks to those who attended “Form I-9 & E-Verify: What You Need To Know 2010″ at Delta Dental Auditorium last Friday. The seminar was a success for the second year in a row!

The event was fully-booked and sold-out by HR Professionals and business owners looking to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the I-9 Form. Participants arrived early Friday morning at Delta Dental Auditorium and were treated to a delicious breakfast to get energized for the day.

Melissa Registers Participants

A delicious breakfast

Attorney Jim Reidy, of Sheehan, Phinney, Bass + Green, P.A., kicked-off the seminar by providing participants with an informative Labor Law Legal Update.

Attorney Jim Reidy kicked-off the day

Attorney John Wilson and Attorney Grace Miller of GoffWilson, P.A. led the seminar. Participants learned how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targets illegal immigration by focusing on U.S. employers. ICE uses the I-9 Form and hiring records to target employers that do not comply with employment eligibility verification laws. Form I-9 errors can result in fines that range from $110 to $1,100.

Attorney Grace Miller & Attorney John Wilson explain how ICE targets illegal immigration

Attorney Wilson and Attorney Miller taught participants how to complete the I-9 Form properly and completely, discussed the most common errors that can result in ICE scrutiny and fines, reviewed acceptable verification documents, and covered the most up-to-date legal requirements that employers must abide by.

Attorney Miller teaches participant how to properly complete the I-9 Form

Attorney Wilson teaches participants how to properly document a U.S. Driver's License and a Birth Certificate

After 3 hours of intense I-9 training, participants received certificates for HRCI credit from the Human Resource Certification Institue. Nancy Valpey from the NH Liquor Commission was the lucky winner of the beautiful flower arrangement at the registration table.

Participants received 3 hours of HRCI recertification credit

Enter to win the flowers...

And the lucky winner is: Nancy!

Special thanks to the staff at Delta Dental for providing the space and resources to make the day a success, and to Attorney Jim Reidy for contributing his time and information.

Thank You Delta Dental

We look forward to seeing you at future seminars.

- The GoffWilson I-9 Team

Controversial ICE Quotas

April 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Photo Credit: Sarah L. Vois, Washington Post

Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), the government agency responsible for, “protecting the security of the American people and homeland by vigilantly enforcing the nation’s immigration and customs laws,” has received some negative attention lately.

First, the raids, which have been going for years, have dramatically increased as ICE has received increased funding year after year, and taken enforcement programs to a whole new level. Second, last week, the Washington Post reported that U.S. Immigration authorities have set controversial new quotas for agents. According to the article, “In a Feb. 22 memo, James M. Chaparro, head of ICE detention and removal operations, wrote that, despite record deportations of criminals, the overall number of removals was down. While ICE was on pace to achieve ‘the Agency goal of 150,000 criminal alien removals’ for the year ending Sept. 30, total deportations were set to barely top 310,000, ‘well under the Agency’s goal of 400,000,’ and nearly 20 percent behind last year’s total of 387,000, he wrote.” Although ICE clarified its position through a released statement in response to the Washington Post article, many people were extremely alarmed that the government agency is simply going after easy targets instead of targeting dangerous criminals.

Almost everyday, a new raid takes place somewhere in America. Unauthorized workers, along with their employers are arrested and held criminally liable. With increased ICE enforcement, all companies, small and large, should be proactive about protecting their business’ interests. Business owners and human resource managers can avoid becoming an easy target of ICE by:

  • Staying up-to-date on employer responsibilities, including Form I-9 requirements for ALL employees, not just foreign workers.
  • Contacting an experienced outside firm for an audit of I-9 Forms. All I-9 Forms must be in order and completed correctly. Full compliance must be the goal.
  • Training your HR staff to properly complete I-9 Forms.
  • Creating strong compliance policies within your company and sticking to them.

If you have further questions regarding I-9 self-audits, I-9 training, compliance policies, or questions relating to a specific situation contact GoffWilson.

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