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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. 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.
  2. When does Employer Need to Re-Verify Employee’s I-9 form?

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    From my observations of conducting numerous internal I-9 audits and representing employers in ICE I-9 inspections, I have noticed some employers do not comprehend when to reverify an employee. This article will try to simplify the process.

    If an employee is not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, he is likely working based on a status with a defined end date. For these employees, the employer must note the expiration date of their document(s) on the I-9 form, pull the employee’s I-9 form before its expiration date, and re-verify that the employee’s status has been extended. Employers should establish a reliable tickler system to prompt reverification. Aside from complying with the re-verification rule, this system will also ensure that an employer that needs to extend a work visa for an employee will not forget to take care of this critical task.

    Employers may not specify which documents an employee may present either at the time of hire or at the time of re-verification. An employee may have become a lawful permanent resident or otherwise received employment-authorized status allowing the employee to obtain a Social Security card, as discussed below, absent the sponsorship of the employer, so the employer should not assume the employee is unauthorized. An employee may present a Social Security card to show employment authorization at re-verification if the Social Security card is not restricted with a statement such as “not valid for employment,” “valid for work only with DHS authorization” or “valid for work only with INS authorization.” This type of Social Security card must be accompanied by an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to be valid.

    Returning employees often do not need to complete a new I-9 form, but if that is not done, the employer needs to re-verify the employee’s work authorization in Section 3 of the I-9 form, if the formerly listed work authorization has expired. If a new version of the I-9 form has come out since the last time the I-9 form was completed, the employer may complete a new form or use Section 3 of the existing completed I-9 form. And if the form has been completed in Section 3 from a previous re-verification, the employer should complete Section 3 of a new I-9 form. Plus, the employer should put the employee’s name in Section 1 and retain the new form with the original.

    One final reminder - green cards, driver’s licenses, and passports with expiration dates do not need to be re-verified.

    For more information on reverification and many other issues related to employer immigration compliance, 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.
  3. Effects of Temination of DACA on Employers

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    Since President Trump’s announcement rescinding DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), media focus has been on the 800,000 DACA recipients – as it rightfully should be. However, there is going to be another entity impacted - employers of those 800,000 DACA recipients.

    Not only do employers need to be concerned about the loss of valuable employees, but employers need to be concerned with staying in compliance of immigration laws. It is fundamental immigration law that employees cannot legally work without proof of their identity and work authorization. Thus, when DACA recipients’ Employment Authorization Card (EAD) expire, employers will need to discharge DACA recipients, unless they have found another way to obtain work authorization (which is very unlikely).

    But before employers start discharging employees, one needs to be careful not to do so prematurely. During the period of DACA’s work authorization, even beyond March 5, 2018, when the USCIS will no longer approve DACA renewals, DACA employees can be authorized to legally work. It all depends on the EAD’s expiration date. Although no renewal EAD will be issued after March 5, 2018, this doesn’t mean all DACA recipients are not eligible to work after March 5, 2018.

    As an example, DACA employee Jose has an EAD which expires on March 4, 2018, so he can renew his DACA status and EAD (if the renewal is filed by October 5, 2017). Thus, he will be eligible to work until about March 2020. On the other hand, another employee, Mohammed, has an EAD pursuant to DACA, which expires on March 6, 2018. Unfortunately, March 6, 2018 is the date his employment must terminate. Thus, employers must be observant of the EAD’s expiration date.

    How does an employer even know whether the EAD is through DACA, TPS, or withholding of removal? There is a code on the front of the EAD card. For DACA, the code is C33. This code is different than codes for TPS or withholding - A10, A12 or C19.

    Some employers may ask why can’t I just discharge DACA recipients now. First, they are probably very good employees – as so many of them are proud to be legally working for the first time in their lives. Second, hopefully Congress is going to pass the DREAM Act or some other legislation that will provide for lawful employment for DACA recipients; thus, employers won’t have to face the issue. However, if an employer chose to discharge a DACA recipient based on his DACA status, it is very unlikely that the discharge would be unlawful under the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    Some small employers may be thinking I’m just going to look the other way and not terminate DACA recipients when their work authorization expires. Although I can understand employers not wanting to hurt their DACA employees, employers need to consider their own situation. If an employer continues to employ a worker after his work authorization expires, is not renewed, and no other work authorization is provided, they are subject to “knowingly” employing an undocumented worker. The fines for such a first offense range from $539 to over $4000, with a fine of over $3,000 being the most likely. If you have five DACA employees that you retain without work authorization, you are looking at a fine of $15,000 before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has even looked at your Form I-9s for substantive violations. So, your heart may tell you to keep DACA recipients without work authorization; but, listen to your head, which is filled with dollar signs for fines and penalties.

    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 on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0997083379.
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