What I’d do now as in-house counsel around immigration reform

January 21, 2014

Immigration LawI get it – you’re busy. If I were in your shoes, I’d be reluctant to spend any time or energy around immigration reform unless/until it passes. I’d also be continually looking for ways to reduce my company’s liability to potential claims and fines in both the short and long run. So, keep reading.

General Counsel ecardIf we see immigration reform in any shape or form there will be a strong enforcement component, which will include a requirement that all U.S. employers use E-Verify, an internet-based service that allows employers to run information about employees (namely new hires) through government databases to verify work authorization.

Taking time now to do Form I-9 refresher (or remedial) trainings, considering a self-audit on your I-9’s and verification practices, and thoroughly vetting external vendors if you outsource any of your employment verification obligations is a best practice for companies of all sizes.

Employment verification is a hot topic that warrants attention even in the absence of reform. Worksite inspections of Form I-9 and related fines are on the rise. A growing number of companies are also already enrolled in E-Verify voluntarily or as required under a federal contract or state law. If we do see reform, there is no worse time to uncover errors in existing practices than when you are rolling out new requirements.

While the likelihood of federal immigration reform is too uncertain at this point to warrant additional proactive steps, employment verification compliance is the key issue to focus on in the coming months to better position your company if immigration reform passes (and even if it doesn’t).