Update: TPS Now Available for Syrians

March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

On March 29, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced the registration period for Temporary Protected Status for Syrian nationals is now open for a 180-day period that begins on March 29, 2012 and ends on September 25, 2012.  Syrian nationals (and persons without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria) must register for this status with USCIS.  Once registered, eligible Syrian nationals will not be removed from the United States and may request employment authorization.

To be eligible, Syrians must meet the individual requirements and demonstrate that they have continually resided and been continually physically present in the United States since March 29, 2012. Syria joins the following countries that are currently designated for TPS status:  El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Upon application, Syrians with TPS designation will receive an Employment Authorization Document.  To employ a person with TPS, employers are still required to complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) and accept the reasonably genuine documentation that appears on the lists of accepted documents.  Employers may not request proof of Syrian citizenship when completing the I-9 Form.

If you have any questions, please contact our office.

U.S. to Provide Temporary Protective Status to Syrians

March 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

It has been nearly impossible to miss the news of violence and civil unrest coming from Syria this year. It is estimated that hundreds of people have already died in clashes between the opposition and the current regime, especially the attack on the city of Homs. Currently the violence shows few signs of letting up. Because of this, the United States is providing temporary safety and employment authorization to Syrians already in the U.S.

Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security, has announced that the Department of Homeland Security will be designating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to citizens of Syria currently in the US.  TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to citizens of the foreign country who are present in the United States and unable to return to their home country due to an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster or other extraordinary and temporary conditions until the threat to personal safety has dissipated. Citizens of Syria may enroll in the program and thus receive employment authorization while remaining in the United States in TPS.

The enrollment period has not yet opened. We are expecting an announcement in the Federal Register this week and we are monitoring the situation closely for our clients. The Federal Register notice will provide additional guidance on how to register for TPS, who is eligible to apply for TPS, and when TPS applications can be filed.

Employers will need to understand how to complete an I-9 form for an employee who has employment authorization through TPS. If you have any questions about the TPS application or the I-9 Form, give us a call or email. We are here for you!

Do You Check Out? USCIS Self Check Program Now Available

February 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

Self Check Employment Records Program

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently made an announcement that the Self Check Program is now available throughout the United States, Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

The Self Check Program is an online service for employees to check their own employment eligibility status through the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. « Read the rest of this entry »

Form I-9 Turns 25 (And It’s As Important As Ever)

November 8, 2011 § 2 Comments

I-9 Form Turns 25

Last week, Ivan Hardt, president of Sun Drywall and Stucco in Sierra Vista, AZ,  pleaded guilty to federal charges of hiring undocumented employees after a 16-month investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Sunday, November 6, 2011, marks 25 years that the I-9 Form  has been in effect. The Sun Drywall & Stucco case reminds us not to ignore the simple fact that it is imperative to verify that I-9 forms are in compliance with the law, regulations, administrative decisions, and federal court opinions that have been issued over the last 25 years.

As part of his plea, the company president agreed to pay $225,000 in back wages and an additional administrative forfeiture of $225,000 to ICE. The company, through its president, also pleaded guilty to unlawful employment of undocumented workers.

Hardt’s sentence underscores the importance of I-9 compliance and the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing concerted effort to target employers who hire undocumented workers and to shift the burden of policing undocumented workers onto U.S. employers.

In Janet Napolitano’s testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary on October 26, 2011, she reconfirmed that DHS will continue “utilizing robust Form I-9 inspections, civil fines and debarment, and enhancing compliance tools like E-Verify” as part of its interior enforcement strategy.

Under the Obama administration, ICE has conducted more I-9 audits than any previous administration. Since FY2009, ICE has audited more than 6,000 employers across the country and imposed more than $76 million in financial sanctions on those employers. In FY2011, ICE arrested 221 employers accused of immigration and employment related violations, which is an agency record.

Every employer must fill out the I-9 form for all employees. If you need an I-9 compliance program, an I-9 audit or an just update on how to complete I-9s, call us, it’s what we do! You can also contact us online at http://www.goffwilson.com.

Is there a topic you would like to see covered in an upcoming post on the GoffWilson bLAWg? Submit your idea here, or let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

What A Subway Restaurant’s Mitigated I-9 Fines Means For Your Business

September 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

Goff Wilson

Why should you care about a Subway restaurant in North Carolina and it’s trouble with I-9 forms? Well, from 2009 to the end of 2010, that Subway restaurant was the subject of an ICE investigation and faced fines of more than $110,000 for I-9 form violations.

In its filings, ICE alleged in Count I that the restaurant hired 11 named individuals from 2006 through Feb. 2009 and failed to ensure that those individuals properly completed section 1 of form I-9 and/or failed itself to properly complete section 2 or section 3 of the form. Count II alleged that the restaurant hired 85 named individuals between 2006 and Feb. 2009 for whom it failed to prepare or present I-9 forms at all.

Penalties were sought in the amount of $1,028.50 for each violation, or $31,883.50 for Count I and $87,422.50 for Count II for a total of $119,306.00.

In Dec. 2010, the Department of Justice, Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) issued a precedent decision that reduced the fine levied on the Subway restaurant for form I-9-related violations.

The initial fine was near the maximum amount permitted within the regulations that an employer can be fined. Although the administrative law judge acknowledged that the violations were serious, she reduced the fine after considering the company’s ability to pay and the general state of the economy (among the other five mitigating factors permitted by the statute).

The fine was reduced for Count I to $6,900 and for Count II to $21,250.00 for a total of $28,150, which is still substantial, but is not so “onerous that employees have to lose their jobs or employers are forced out of business.”

This decision is noteworthy due to the additional factors (the company’s ability to pay and the economy) that the judge used to mitigate the fine. This decision gives employers greater negotiating power when faced with fines from ICE for I-9-related violations.

This is another example of employers being held accountable for their workforce. It is noteworthy that in this case none of the bad I-9s were from unauthorized aliens. These are just the type of  I-9 compliance issues GoffWilson can help your company with. Call (603.228.1277) or email us before you have any trouble with ICE.

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.

E-Verify: Extension through 2012 Likely

October 19, 2009 § 1 Comment

2012It appears that the E-Verify program is here to stay – at least until 2012. Last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the $44.1 billion Department of Homeland Security budget for fiscal year 2010 (HR 2892). Funding for E-Verify was set to run out at the end of this month, but the 307-114 vote extends funding for E-Verify through September 2012. The budget is expected to pass the Senate this week and will then be passed on to the President for signature.

If you have questions about E-Verify, the I-9 Form or your company’s compliance responsibilities, contact us.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with US Department of Homeland Security at GoffWilson Immigration bLAWg.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: