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The Modern Workplace

Posts in Immigration.

While the presidential inauguration is front and center, here are two quick items employers will want to take note of:

  1. A Hennepin County Court judge has issued an order temporarily blocking enforcement of Minneapolis new paid sick time ordinance against employers who are not located within the city limits.

  2. There is a new I-9 form that must be used starting this Sunday, January 22. Previous versions of the I-9 may not be used with new hires after that date.

Minneapolis Paid Sick and Safe Time. We have previously blogged about the Minneapolis paid sick leave ordinance. The ordinance ...

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Posted in Immigration

As we previously predicted, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more new H-1B petitions during the first week of April 2014 than there are visa numbers available for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. USCIS received approximately 172,500 petitions for FY 2015, which is more than double the annual limit of 65,000 regular H-1B visas and the additional 20,000 visa numbers reserved for individuals who hold advanced degrees from U.S. institutions.

USCIS has already conducted a random computer-generated lottery of all of those petitions to determine which ...

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Posted in Immigration

Last year U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more than 124,000 applications for new H-1B specialty occupation visas for foreign professionals during the first week of April. As a result, USCIS implemented a computer-generated lottery system to allocate the 65,000 regular H-1B visas and the 20,000 additional H-1B visas reserved for foreign nationals with a masters degree or higher from a U.S. institution. Although there were predictions of high demand in 2013, some employers were not prepared given that the cap had not been reached for many months in the two ...

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Anything you say on Facebook can and often will be used against you in a court of law. Technology has not only changed the workplace; it has also changed employment lawsuits. We've provided a link below to an article discussing how data from smartphones and social media can take center stage in a workplace harassment lawsuit and methods for mitigating legal risks. You can also read on below about how electronic metadata drastically impacted a non-compete case. Speaking of technology having a drastic impact, there's also a link below to an app designed to help you fight for immigration ...
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 While making a presentation to clients yesterday, I was reminded of the practical and logistical problems many employers face when trying to complete the I-9 process for remote employees. One of my presentation hypotheticals involved a scenario in which a Minnesota company hired a California employee and wanted to complete Section 2 of the I-9 by having the new hire send scanned copies of her identification and employment authorization documents by email. Sounds like a logical and modern approach to I-9 completion, right? Unfortunately, it doesnt comply with I-9 ...

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Posted in Immigration

The newly revised Form I-9 went into full effect  this past week on May 7, 2013.  USCIS rolled out the new form earlier this year, but gave employers a 60-day grace period to transition.  As of last Tuesday, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is no longer accepting the previous version of Form I-9. Employers must use this new form for all new hires and reverifications going forward, but they do not need to complete a new Form I-9 for existing employees with a properly completed form on file.  For more information on the changes to the new Form I-9, please visit the previous blog ...

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Posted in Immigration
Last week, the bi-partisan Gang of Eight U.S. Senators released an 844 page bill entitled The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. If you are like me and do not have 10+ hours to devote to reading the entire bill, the Senate has also released a 17 page summary that can be found here  

The bill addresses many aspects of the U.S. immigration system, but in the interest of brevity, I will limit my comments to a few key parts of the bill that directly impact employers. 
 
Mandatory E-Verify for All Employers

Under the proposed legislation, all ...

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Posted in Immigration

 The USCIS has published a Notice in the Federal Register announcing the release of the revised Form I-9.  Employers should begin using the revised form immediately. There is, however, a 60-day grace period before penalties may be imposed for using a previous version of the form. 

The final changes to the form include additional instructions, an expanded two-page layout, and new data fields for employees to list their email addresses and phone numbers.  Employers should be sure that they update their policies and handbooks to reflect the changes in the revised form and instructions.  In ...

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Posted in Immigration
Its that time of year again; time for employers to evaluate their H-1B work visa hiring needs in anticipation of H-1B filing season. For those readers who may not be familiar with the H-1B, it is a nonimmigrant visa category that allows employers to hire skilled foreign workers for temporary employment in the U.S. The annual cap for new H-1Bs is 65,000, with an additional 20,000 visa numbers reserved for applicants who possess a Masters degree or higher from a U.S. institution. Note that only petitions filed on behalf of foreign nationals who have not previously been counted ...
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While employers should take steps to comply with all applicable legal obligations, it doesn't hurt to know those areas of compliance that are going to be given particular attention by enforcement agencies. Earlier this week, the EEOC announced its Strategic Enforcement Plan  (SEP) for Fiscal Years 2013 2016. The SEP gives employers a peek at the measures the EEOC believes are needed to achieve its goal of deterring discriminatory practices in the workplace.

The SEP identifies the following six enforcement priorities:

  1. Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring. The Commission ...
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Its been a big week at the Supreme Court. The health care ruling (available here) is grabbing most of the headlines. While more analysis will be pouring out over the next several weeks, several sources are beginning to provide helpful information for employers:
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Posted in Immigration
Here at the Modern Workplace, we encourage employers to adopt the Scout Motto when it comes to immigration paperwork: Be Prepared.  Immigration enforcement through silent raids, or workplace audits of Forms I-9 and other documents, continues apace and doesn't look like its going to slow down anytime soon. Just last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) informally confirmed that it has issued audit notices to another 500 employers. 
ICE has issued thousands of Notices of Inspection since 2009. The Notices often request not only I-9 documentation, but also payroll ...
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Posted in Immigration
Last week,  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services published proposed revisions to Form I-9 in the Federal Register (go to this link and click on PDF image). The proposed form includes more detailed instructions and greater clarity about what information is required in the various fields. The most notable change is that the proposed form is two pages instead of one. In addition, the draft form includes several modifications and additions worth noting, including:
  • Time of hire is redefined as no later than the first day of work for pay.
  • Clear instructions to employers about how to ...
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Foreign nationals are often among the most highly-qualified applicants for permanent positions at colleges and universities in the United States.  In order to hire and retain foreign national candidates for permanent positions, colleges and universities need to follow a series of steps to assist the qualified foreign national candidate in obtaining work permission and, if desired, permanent residence status in the U.S. Permanent residence status confers on foreign nationals the right to live and work in the U.S. without time limitations.  One of the more common ways to obtain ...
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Posted in Immigration
We have received information that the Department of Homeland Securitys Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency recently initiated a new round of I-9 audits.  Although ICE has not yet issued a public announcement about a new wave of audits, there have been multiple reports of businesses receiving Notices of Inspection beginning last Wednesday, November 2, 2011.  Our July 1, 2011 Modern Workplace blog post provides information regarding the I-9 audit process and tips for how to respond to a Notice of Inspection.
In light of ICEs continued focus on I-9 audits, it is now more ...
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Immigration is among the thornier and most complicated of all political issues, and also one of the most consequential to employers.  A representative example: The current debate surrounding the federal worker eligibility status database, E-Verify.

One would think a program whose origins lie in legislation passed under Reagan, piloted under Clinton, expanded under George W. Bush and championed by the Obama administration would garner broad bipartisan and popular support.  Instead, it has been forcefully opposed by groups spanning the ideological spectrum, from the ...
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Posted in Immigration
Are you contemplating filing an H-1B petition for a current or potential employee?  On August 26, 2011, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received approximately 29,000 cap-subject H-1B petitions that were counted towards the 65,000 Fiscal Year 2012 cap.  Additionally, USCIS accepted roughly 15,800 petitions towards the 20,000 visa cap for persons who qualified for the H-1B advanced-degree professional exemption.  As a reminder, Fiscal Year 2012 begins on October 1, 2011, and H-1B petitions filed for this allocation must have a ...
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Posted in Immigration
You may have noticed a slight chill in the air a couple of weeks ago when, for the second time this year, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency notified 1,000 employers that it plans to inspect their I-9 records.  The Notices of Intent to Audit (NOI) that were issued on June 15, 2011, bring the total number of companies audited by ICE to more than 2,300 for this fiscal year, which already surpasses last years record of 2,196.  According to a statement issued by ICE, the employers affected by this most recent round of audits were selected primarily based on tips and leads, though ...
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Posted in Immigration

In an era of increasing worksite enforcement, many employers are turning to technology to assist in their compliance with immigration laws. For example, in recent years, new technology has emerged that allows employers to electronically store their Forms I-9. An electronic I-9 retention system may allow quicker completion, fewer mistakes, easier retrieval and a more accurate way to flag documents.

In July 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finalized a regulation intended to provide more flexibility for employers to electronically sign and store I-9 forms. Until ...

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