Immigration compliance is a top priority for the new administration, and many changes may be coming soon.
One projection is that E-Verify will become mandatory for all employers. Currently, participation is voluntary except for federal contractors or if your state has a mandate.
Only time will tell if mandatory E-Verify becomes a reality nationally for all businesses, but two recent enforcement actions may provide us with an idea about the types of changes to immigration compliance we should expect:
Pizza Chain Pays Settlement for Routinely Asking to See Green Cards
The DOJ investigated after receiving a claim that the pizza chain “routinely requested that lawful permanent residents produce a Permanent Resident Card to prove their work authorization, while not requesting a specific document from U.S. citizens.”
This is an example of unfair documentary practices, and the DOJ alleged a pattern or practice of requesting a List-A document from lawful permanent residents because of their citizenship status.
These allegations led to the chain agreeing to pay a $140,000 settlement in addition to posting notices informing workers about their rights and anti-discrimination protections, providing additional training to HR personnel, and being subject to monitoring and reporting requirements.
National Staffing Company Fined for Improperly Completing I-9 Forms
The law requires that the same person who reviews an applicant’s original documents must complete and sign the I-9 at section 2. Unfortunately, this company did not follow that requirement, and it led to $227,000 in civil fines.
These fines were issued despite the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) determined that all employees were legally authorized to work and the employer had E-Verify confirmations of authorized work status. The government argued – and the court agreed – that the verification process used by the employer was not compliant with the law, and this was enough to levy the fines.
The Bottom Line
This is an incredibly important time for employers to review their hiring practices, conduct internal audits directed by experienced immigration counsel to ensure compliance and privilege, and understand the ramifications of participating in the E-Verify program.