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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. Business Owner Goes to Jail for Fraudulent H-1B Scheme

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The owner of two employment staffing companies was sentenced in federal court to 52 months in prison and a $50,000 fine for engaging in a scheme to submit fraudulent H-1B petitions for foreign workers. Previously, Sunitha Guntipally had pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, obstruction of justice, use of false documents, mail fraud and witness tampering.

    Judge Lucy Koh stated the defendant’s conduct undermines respect for our legal immigration system and does tremendous damage to our institutions and affects the rights of others to immigrate to the United States.

    Guntipally and her husband, who own employment staffing companies DS Soft Tech and Equinett, and two co-conspirators submitted more than 100 fraudulent H-1B petitions to foreign workers to be placed at companies that either did not exist or never received the workers, according to federal prosecutors. The U.S. attorney’s office said the applications were intended to create a pool of H-1B beneficiaries who could then get hired by other companies, thereby unfairly giving Guntipally and her co-conspirators an advantage over other competing employment staffing firms.

    This case is another example of individuals being criminally liable for immigration law violations. For more information about immigration compliance issues, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which I co-authored and is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. Automatic Extension of EADs for Hondurans and Nicaraguans on TPS

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    As the Trump administration continues to gradually terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for some countries, including Honduras and Nicaragua, it is important to remember the validity of employment authorization cards (EADs) is automatically extended for a period of time for individuals with TPS from Honduras and Nicaragua.

    If an employee from Honduras or Nicaragua has an EAD with an expiration date of January 5, 2018 and lists the category code "A-12" or "C-19," this EAD is automatically extended and the employee may continue to work without a new EAD (and without a receipt notice) through the end of the applicable automatic extension period. TPS Honduras EADs have been automatically extended through July 4, 2018. TPS Nicaragua EADs have been automatically extended through March 6, 2018.

    Additionally, the EADs of TPS beneficiaries from Nicaragua, who timely re-register (Form I-821) and file a request for a new EAD (Form I-765), will be automatically extended through July 4, 2018. The period for re-registration ends on February 13, 2018. If approved, the new EAD will terminate on January 5, 2019, the last day of TPS for Nicaraguans.

    The automatic extension of EADs for Hondurans and Nicaraguans is very important for employers because normally an employer needs to terminate an employee whose EAD expires and no further work authorization, such as a new EAD or permanent resident card, is provided. Thus, EADs obtained through TPS are an exception to the rule. If an employer terminates an employee because it believed their work authorization had expired when the EAD had been automatically extended, the employer may have violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). As subject, the employee may be subject to an investigation by the Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section of the Department of Justice, which has authority to seek an employee’s reinstatement with back pay and a penalty paid to the U.S. government.

    If you want further information on immigration compliance issues, I recommend reading The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a new book that I co-authored, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  3. ICE to Increase Worksite Immigration Enforcement Actions in Tennessee

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), through Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), plans to increase worksite immigration enforcement actions across Tennessee in 2018, according to Robert Hammer, an assistant special agent in charge of HSI in Nashville, Tennessee. As previously reported, Thomas D. Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has stated there will be 4 to 5 times increase in worksite enforcement actions, usually referred to as inspections, in 2018. See http://blogs.ilw.com/entry.php?10186...-Current-Level.

    Hammer made this statement after the indictment of 20 undocumented workers for using fake IDs to work in a sensitive air cargo area at Memphis International Airport.

    http://blogs.ilw.com/entry.php?10292...mented-Workers. Hammer also stated worksite immigration investigations will likely focus on "critical infrastructure," such as airports, defense contractors, food distribution and other businesses that have an impact on the general safety and welfare of the community. The emphasis on critical infrastructure is because the agency is making it one of its priorities.

    Although the Obama Administration greatly increased worksite immigration enforcement actions from 2009 through 2014, it curtailed these operations in the last two years of its administration. The Trump Administration’s increase will more than double the highest number of worksite immigration enforcement actions under the Obama Administration. Increased enforcement could have a big impact on companies and industries that use immigrant labor, especially in those states which do not require the use of E-Verify.

    If an employer receives a Notice of Inspection from ICE, its I-9 forms may show the employment of undocumented workers and the employer may have knowingly hired unauthorized workers, which is against the law. Alternatively, an employer may not have knowingly hired unauthorized workers but still those undocumented workers must be discharged (unless they quit) or the employer will be fined.

    If you want a full discussion of the possible criminal and civil sanctions against employers for violating immigration laws, I recommend you read my book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379. There are chapters dedicated to civil penalties and criminal sanctions for violating immigration laws.
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