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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. USCIS Launches New Website E-Verify

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law



    USCIS has launched a new website, E-Verify.gov. USCIS describes it as the authoritative source for information on electronic employment eligibility verification. E-Verify.gov is for employers, employees and the general public.

    The website provides information about E-Verify and Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, including employee rights and employer responsibilities in the employment verification process. E-Verify.gov allows employers to enroll in E-Verify directly and permits current users to access their accounts. Individuals with myE-Verify accounts can also access their accounts through E-Verify.gov.

    “For the past decade, E-Verify has been the cornerstone of our continued commitment to helping employers maintain a legal workforce,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “E-Verify.gov now allows users to better understand and navigate through the employment verification process.”

    Employers can access E-Verify anytime, anywhere directly from a web browser. Nearly all employees are confirmed as work-authorized instantly or within 24 hours. The system has nearly 800,000 enrolled employers, which is still a small percentage of total employers in the United States.

    If you want to know more information on E-Verify, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  2. Pre-Population: Ever-Changing Positions from Immigration-Related Agencies

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

    The immigration-related agencies’ positions on the pre-population of data in Section 1 of the I-9 form is everchanging. At about the time of our publication of the book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, Bruce Buchanan and Greg Siskind, 2d ed. (2017), the USCIS altered its position again.

    The USCIS added the following in I-9 Central, Section 1, Questions & Answers:

    Question: Can Section 1 of Form I-9 be auto-populated by an electronic system that collects information during the on-boarding process for a new hire if the employee is required to verify that the information is correct and can make corrections or add information if necessary?

    Answer: DHS regulations require that the employee completes Section 1 of Form I-9. Employers can offer employees electronic tools to facilitate the Section 1 completion process, as long as this regulatory requirement and the regulatory requirements for the electronic generation of Form I-9 continue to be met.

    This answer is contrary to the position that USCIS articulated in the E-Verify newsletter, November 2016, which the book quoted as follows:

    USCIS stated Section 1 of Form I-9 could not be pre-populated. Pre-population involves the electronic inclusion of data about the employee in Section 1 by Form I-9 software programs without the employee having to write the information in Section 1.

    See Chapter 2, Question 2.12, p. 23-24.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and OSC (now renamed the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the U.S. Department of Justice) have not changed their positions which were discussed on p. 24 of The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook. Thus, ICE holds no official position on the pre-population of Section 1 by electronic Form I-9 software programs. This is a change in past policy in which ICE stated pre-population could not be done by employers. On the other hand, in August 2013, the OSC stated that it discouraged the practice of pre-population because “it increases the likelihood of including inaccurate or outdated information.”

    I invite anybody who has the book - The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379, to alert me of any substantive changes that have been made in employer immigration compliance since the publication of the book. As we know, immigration law is everchanging and I want to keep the book up to date. I would like to thank Dave Fowler of Worksite Compliance Services for pointing out the change related to pre-population.
  3. H-1B Site Visits Will Be Increasing

    By: Bruce R. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

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    Due to a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the USCIS plans to substantially increase their H-1B site visits. On October 27, 2017, the OIG issued a report - “USCIS Needs a Better Approach to Verify H-1B Visa Participants” where it made four recommendations, all which USCIS said it would strive to achieve.

    The OIG report made these findings:
    1. USCIS does not track their site visits as to the type of visa category the visit pertains;
    2. USCIS does not assess the information it collects from site visits;
    3. USCIS is to conduct site visits, that will target – a) employers where basic business information cannot be verified; b) employers who are H-1B dependent; and c) employers who place beneficiaries offsite;
    4. USCIS should deny new petitions for an employer, which has recurring violators;
    5. USCIS should revoke petitions, where site visits are unverified; and
    6. Immigration Officers are not all trained and site visits are not conducted on a uniform basis.
    OIG’s four recommendations are:
    1. USCIS should develop a process to collect and analyze all data collected from an H-1B site visit, including tracking the information and the program costs. USCIS also needs to analyze adjudicative actions for unverified site visits, and use the data collected to develop performance measures to assess the effectiveness of the site visit program;
    2. USCIS should identify data and assessments through the site visits and share it with external stakeholders;
    3. USCIS needs to identify where resources need to go for the site visit program, including adjusting the number of required site visits and time and effort spent; updating policies, procedures, and training so that site visits are conducted efficiently and uniformly; streamlining the employers visited and applying a risk-based approach; providing Immigration Officers a career path so that they do not leave; and
    4. USCIS should develop comprehensive policies to ensure that adjudicative action is prioritized on fraudulent or noncompliant petitions.
    Employers should be ready for more H-1B site visits. To be ready, an employer should:
    1. Have a system in place if USCIS shows up for site visit, which includes calling their attorney;
    2. Designate a contact or contacts to handle USCIS site visits;
    3. Ask for and record the credentials and contact information of the USCIS official;
    4. Keep copies of the public access files in a location where they can be accessed quickly;
    5. If unsure of an answer to a question posed by the USCIS official, ask for additional time and offer to follow-up; and
    6. At the end of the site visit, write down a detailed report, including questions USCIS asked.
    For more information on other immigration compliance topics I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, which is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  4. E-Verify Participation Poster Redesigned

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law
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    The USCIS has recently released a redesigned E-Verify participation poster. The new poster informs current and prospective employees of their legal rights, responsibilities, and protections in the employment eligibility verification process.

    The poster is now available in English and Spanish as one poster. Employers must replace their participation posters when updates are provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Thus, employers should check to see if the most current poster is available. The new posters can be downloaded when participants log into E-Verify. Employers may also display any of 16 foreign language versions of the poster.

    E-Verify employers continue to be required to display the Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Right to Work posters in English and Spanish.

    For the answers to many other questions related to employer immigration compliance, I invite you to read my new book, The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
  5. Trump’s Extreme Vetting – L-1B Site Visits

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    As many immigration attorneys had anticipated, L-1B site visits by the USCIS and its Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) officers have recently begun. This appears to be another example of the Trump administration’s extreme vetting. These site visits have occurred while companies have pending L-1B visa extensions with the USCIS.

    An L-1B visa is a transfer of an employee with specialized knowledge from a foreign office of the company or its affiliate or subsidiary to a United States facility. It is dissimilar to the H-1B visa in that it is not subject to a cap nor any salary restrictions. But, it can only be utilized by multinational corporations. It is like an H-1B visa in that it is a vehicle for a company to employ a skilled foreign worker on a non-immigrant or temporary visa. An L-1B visa holder is eligible to be employed for up to five years.

    Historically, site visits have taken place on H-1B visas, especially where the H-1B visa holder was employed off-site. As a result of Trump’s April 2017 Executive Order “Buy American and Hire American”, the administration has stated it will use a “more targeted approach” to H-1B visits – meaning more site visits where there is possible fraud or abuse in the visa application.

    Some of the pending legislation in Congress to reform or change the H-1B visa also includes changes to the L-1B visa. Senator Chuck Grassley (R – Iowa) has made the L-1B visa a target for immigration reform. Thus, this seems in keeping with the administration and their friends in Congress grouping H-1B visas with L-1B visas.

    At this point, it is difficult to determine how widespread the L-1B site visits are; however, the fact that there are L-1B site visits while a petition is pending is a change from prior administrations. I would anticipate these L-1B site visits to increase as this appears to be part of the Trump administration’s extreme vetting. I will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
    Tags: fraud, h-1b, l-1b, trump, uscis Add / Edit Tags
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