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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

OSC Responds to Unusual Employer Inquiry; by Bruce Buchanan, Siskind Susser

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On July 30, 2014, the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) issued a Technical Assistance Letter in response to questions posed by a human resources employee at Legrand North America – a multi-national electric products manufacturer and distributor.

Legrand, in its letter to OSC, appears to have disclosed improper I-9 documentary practices that the company found during an internal audit. OSC cites from Legrand’s letter in which the company requested guidance on how to proceed after discovering that it over documented their Form I-9s “in a few cases”.

Ironically, OSC actively investigates complaints from employees when employers are alleged to have engaged in citizenship or immigration status discrimination, national origin discrimination, unfair documentary practices ("document abuse") during the employment eligibility verification Form I-9 process, and retaliation against employees who file a charge or assert their rights under the anti-discrimination provision.

OSC enforces the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and it took this opportunity to remind Legrand of an important point: Over documentation by an employer can actually open a company to liability for discrimination if, for example, the employer placed additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process based on the employees’ citizenship status or national origin.

In addition to OSC, proper completion of Form I-9s is enforced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations which has the authority to inspect an employer’s I-9s and seek penalties starting at $935 per Form I-9 violation. I have covered many of these investigations and penalties at length in my blog – www.employerimmigration.com

It is unclear what may come of Legrand’s inquiry, if anything, but employers would be wise to address such case-specific questions to their immigration counsel before directly approaching government enforcement agencies. Alternatively, immigration counsel can request a Technical Assistance Letter without naming the employer-client. Employers and their human resource departments would also be wise to have an I-9 Compliance Policy and self-audit periodically under the supervision of an immigration compliance attorney.

A copy of the OSC Technical Assistance Letter is available here.


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Size:  2.9 KB ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Buchanan is an attorney with the law firm of Siskind Susser P.C. - www.visalaw.com - a full service U.S. immigration law firm representing employers and individuals nationwide for over 20 years. You can also follow this author on social media via Facebook and on Twitter @BuchananVisaLaw .

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