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7 Tips to Complete Error-Free I-9 Forms

Since 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) requires employers to complete the I-9 form to verify that all new employees are authorized to work in the United States.  An employer who fails to properly fill out the form for each employee can face stiff fines and penalties.  These paperwork violations can range from $110 to $1100 in fines, even if all your employees are work authorized. (Keep reading →)

Commercial Cleaning Systems Settles Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim for $78,500

Takeaway for Employers – Do Not Require I-9 Specific Documents from New Employees

On June 12, 2014, the Justice Department reached an agreement  with Commercial Cleaning Systems, a janitorial services company with headquarters in Denver.  The agreement resolves claims that the company discriminated against work-authorized non-U.S. citizens in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

The department’s investigation was initiated based on a referral from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  The investigation found that Commercial Cleaning Systems required work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to present specific documentation issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in order to verify their employment eligibility, while U.S. citizens were permitted to present their choice of documentation.  The INA’s anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status or national origin.

Under the settlement agreement, Commercial Cleaning Systems will pay $53,500 in civil penalties, create a $25,000 back pay fund to compensate individuals who may have lost wages as a result of the company’s discriminatory document practices, and be subject to monitoring of its employment eligibility verification practices for one year.

“Discriminating against work-authorized employees because they are not citizens violates federal law and the Justice Department is committed to enforcing this law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “We applaud Commercial Cleaning Systems for working cooperatively with the division to resolve this matter.”

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The statute also prohibits, among other things, citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing and recruitment or referral for a fee.  The case was handled by OSC Trial Attorney Linda White Andrews.

Ann Badmus Interviewed on ABC News Radio

Ann Massey Badmus is a shareholder and head of the Immigration Law section of Cowles & Thompson. In this interview on June 14th, 2014 in San Francisco, California she is asked about immigrant children crossing into the United States.

Webinar on Demand – Secrets to Winning a Green Card Through PERM Labor Certification

PERM labor certification is the most common way for a foreign national to get permanent residence (green card) through a job offer. Whether you are a sponsoring employer or sponsored employee, now is the time to learn the tips and tools to navigate the process more quickly and smoothly in 2014.

Watch this webinar and you will learn the questions to ask to determine whether the PERM process is right for you and your company so you don’t waste precious time and resources, the legal pitfalls to avoid that can slow down the process and cost you time and money,  your rights and obligations as a sponsored employee or sponsoring employer, and more.

 

The information provided in this webinar is intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. You should not act or rely upon the information in this article without first seeking the advice of an immigration attorney.

Ann Badmus Interviewed on CCTV Program – “The Heat”

In this  national television interview on June 27, 2014, Cowles & Thompson attorney, Ann Massey Badmus,  is asked about large number of immigrant children entering the United States from Central America and Mexico

 

 

I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form: Compliance – The Cost of Saving

As a business owner, how much of your company yearly budget is allocated to pay for I-9 compliance training and how much for fines and penalties?

Frequently, small and medium size business owners dismiss the importance of I-9 compliance due to a lack of information or the belief that the I-9 is a “simple” one page form that “anyone can complete.” For large companies, I-9 compliance is the responsibility of the HR department, which (sometimes) lacks the appropriate training to completing I-9 forms correctly.

(Keep reading →)

DACA Renewals Begin!

Effective immediately, USCIS will begin accepting DACA renewal requests. USCIS will also continue to accept requests for DACA from individuals who have not applied previously.

To avoid a gap in your deferral status and work authorization, you must file your renewal request before the expiration date of your current  deferred action. It’s best to submit your renewal request about 120 day (four months) in advance of expiration.

You may request DACA renewal if you continue to meet the initial criteria and these additional requirements:

  • You did not leave the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole;
  • You have lived continuously in the United States since you last applied for and received DACA deferred action; and
  • You have  not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

USCIS will run a background check when processing DACA renewals.

Don’t miss out.  Review your documents today and call your attorney to begin preparing for DACA renewal. For professional assistance with your application, you are invited to contact us today at 214-672-2000 or immigration@cowlesthompson.com.

 

The information provided in this article is intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. You should not act or rely upon the information in this article without first seeking the advice of an immigration attorney.

H-4 Visas: What You Need to Know About Proposed Work Permits for H-4 Spouses

The government’s recent announcement of its proposal to offer employment authorization to H-4 dependent spouses is exciting news.  However, the first thing you should know is that this is only a proposed rule.  No one can apply now. After the public has had the chance to comment on the proposed rule, the Department of HomeLand Security (DHS) can make the rule official and announce the procedures to apply for the work permits. The final rule may be the same or different from the proposed rule.

While waiting for the final outcome, here are some important details to know about the proposed rule:

  • Not all H-4 dependent spouses will qualify.  H-4 children do not quality either. Instead, only the following two groups will be eligible:
    • H-4 spouses of H-1B workers who have approved I-140 immigrant petitions.  The approved I-140 petition can be based upon PERM labor certification (LC) and any of the EB-1 and EB-2 categories (extraordinary ability, outstanding researcher, national interest waiver, etc.)
    • H-4 spouses of H-1B workers whose H1B status was extended beyond the six-year limit pursuant to the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21). AC21 offers this extension if (a) the H-1B worker’s PERM labor certification (LC) was filed with the Department of Labor by the end of the 5th year in H-1B status; (b)  an I-140 petition (in cases where an LC is not required such as national interest waiver) was filed by the end of the 5th year in H-1B status); or (c) the LC and I-140 are approved but no visa number is available because the priority date is not current.
  • If qualified, the H-4 dependent spouse must apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) and wait for its approval before starting work.  Typically, it takes 90 days to get an EAD. DHS plans to charge a $380 filing fee for the EAD.
  • DHS estimates that initially 100,600 H-4 spouses will be eligible under this rule, and about 39,500 will be eligible each year.
  • You have an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule and make suggestions for improvement.  Just follow the the instructions provided on the Federal Register website. The deadline for comments is July 11, 2014.

 

Cowles & Thompson Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor this proposed rule. If you would like updates as they become available, send an email to immigration@cowlesthompson.com.

The information provided in this article is intended to help you understand basic issues involved in the immigration process, and are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. This information is not offered as, nor does it constitute legal advice or legal opinions. You should not act or rely upon the information in this article without first seeking the advice of an immigration attorney.

Five Questions about Advance Parole

FROM THE USCIS BEACON BLOG:

Advance parole is most commonly used when someone has Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, pending.  If you depart the United States while your I-485 application is pending without first obtaining advance parole, your case will be denied, unless you fit into a narrow exception for those maintaining certain nonimmigrant statuses.  CLICK HERE FOR THE ANSWERS TO FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT ADVANCE PAROLE.

Understanding ICE’s Release of Immigrants with Criminal Convictions

May 15, 2014

Washington D.C. – Understanding the complexities of immigration law and its intersection with criminal law is not easy. Over the past month, a flood of reports about enforcement policies and deportation data have compounded the confusion. Some of these reports were clearly designed to derail genuine and productive conversations around immigration policy reform. Case in point, this week the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) issued a paper that claims over 36,000 “criminal aliens” were released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

It’s important to understand a few key issues underlying this report:

First, it’s difficult to assess the methodology of their data collection or analysis because CIS makes none of it publicly available. There are no footnotes in the document, or citations of any kind. All of their data comes from “a document obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies,” which they don’t provide or describe. The chart in the report says nothing more than “Source: ICE.” The article then goes on to draw even more conclusions about the document that are based on “separate information” that is never discussed or identified.

However, even for those who are unwilling to challenge the integrity or value of the CIS “data,” it is still important to understand the following:

While all of the 36,000 they refer to may be foreign-born, by no means are they all unauthorized or “illegally” in the United States. In fact, many of them are likely to be legal permanent residents or green-card holders. So it may not even have been determined whether they can or should be deported from the United States. The offenses they committed may or may not even be grounds for revoking their green card and deporting them. Until that determination has been made, the use of alternatives to detention is not only consistent with the Constitutional principles and values that are the foundation of the judicial system in the United States, but it makes economic sense as well. DHS spends $5 million dollars per day (nearly $2 billion per year) detaining immigrants at a cost of $159 dollars per person, per day (fiscal year 2014). For people who have homes, family, and other ties to the community, who are unlikely to flee, and who pose no threat to the community, alternatives to detention are smart and effective. The test for detention should be an individualized consideration of public safety threat and flight risk, not a one size fits all rule that covers all immigrants.

Next, all the people identified in the CIS document appear to have paid their fine or done their time for their criminal offense. However, since they are foreign-born, after completion of their criminal sentences they are turned over to immigration authorities who determine if their offenses should result in deportation. Many of these people are legal permanent residents (including those who have been here for many years and have family here) who have a right to a hearing before they lose their status. Immigration proceeding are not meant to be, nor should they be, criminal proceedings. In fact, the justification for the lack of due process in immigration proceedings is that they are civil, not criminal. The demand for harsh detention and punitive treatment is completely at odds with what the immigration system is supposed to be. If we are going to treat these people like criminals, then CIS should be equally adamant in demanding full due-process rights. Not surprisingly, they are not.

Also, the overwhelming majorities of these convictions are for minor offenses and include things like tax fraud, disturbing the peace, traffic convictions, and other minor crimes that would be classified as misdemeanors for natives, but which for immigrants are often classified as felonies. Wild accusations notwithstanding, we know next to nothing about the true nature of the offenses or the potential threat that these people pose. DHS should be vigilant about protecting communities from those who truly pose a threat, but that is accomplished by looking at the facts, not by making decisions based on labels or fear- mongering.

Moreover, just like in the criminal justice system, the immigration laws contemplate that many individuals going through the court system can remain home while those proceedings are pending. All of these individuals were released under supervision because of basic Constitutional principles that apply to all people. The Supreme Court has affirmed that the United States cannot lock people up indefinitely after they have served their sentence. For those facing the possibility of indefinite detention, the Court has made it clear that there must be a process to review these cases and release people who can be safely released. However, for those who pose a “special risk to public safety,” they can continue to be detained.  All of the cases in the CIS report appear to have been determined to be cases where this exception does not apply.

Finally, there is nothing in the CIS paper which indicates that DHS has terminated proceedings or exercised any kind of prosecutorial discretion in these cases. Being “released” from custody doesn’t mean people are “set free.” They are released after paying a bond, under an order of supervision, with an ankle bracelet, etc. while DHS can and does continue to pursue a case against them.

There is no question that our current immigration laws and policies are broken, and the status quo is unsustainable. However, inflammatory rhetoric and baseless accusations are not going to get us an immigration system that is good for our economy, good for families, and that keeps our country safe. That will require our elected officials to move past political rhetoric and posturing and start debating what reform should look like. We can and should have laws that are fair, sensible, and humane – laws that are consistent with our Constitution and our values, and that will keep our country safe and improve our economy. The only question that remains is when will Congress act?

-From the American Immigration Council