Larrabee Albi Coker LLP partners with employers to ensure compliance with immigration matters such as employment eligibility verification, including audits by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Department of Labor (DOL) investigations referring to immigration-related wage and hour requirements; export control (deemed export licensing); development of corporate immigration policies; and assistance with corporate mergers, acquisitions and reorganizations that can impact the immigration process.
At Larrabee Albi Coker LLP, we partner with employers to understand and comply with the employment eligibility verification (I-9 compliance) process. Employers are required to verify the employment eligibility of all employees hired after November 6, 1986. This is accomplished through the execution of the Form I-9 and the maintenance of that form, as well as with participation in the E-Verify process by some employers. Both ICE and DOL are empowered to conduct audits of employers to determine if the company is in compliance. The key to ensuring compliance with this section of the immigration laws is to have strong policies and procedures in place to deal with the I-9 and E-Verify preparation and maintenance requirements. Failure to do so may result in significant fines assessed by ICE.
Our services include in-depth trainings on I-9 best practices and compliance; trainings on and assistance with the E-Verify program; legal review of electronic I-9 programs to ensure compliance with regulations; mock audits to ensure full compliance in the event of a DOL or ICE audit; assistance with self-audits; assistance with actual audits conducted by ICE or DOL to limit civil fines and potential criminal charges filed against employers; and advising on whether or not to adopt I-9s in the event of a corporate restructuring.
The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is involved in the immigration process for H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 visa classifications. Specifically, the WHD enforces certain provisions of the H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 programs to ensure that U.S. workers are not adversely affected by the hiring of H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 nonimmigrant workers, as well as to protect such nonimmigrant workers from potential abuse with respect to wages and working conditions. The DOL’s WHD has the authority to investigate H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 employers to ensure that they are in compliance with the terms of employment specified on the Labor Condition Application that is filed with the USCIS in conjunction with an H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 petition and/or filed with a U.S. consular post as part of an application for an H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 visa.
Investigations of employers conducted by WHD typically are the result of complaints filed by workers but may also be initiated by the WHD itself. The WHD may assess H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 employers with significant civil fines, as well as orders for payment of back wages to nonimmigrant workers, and even debarment from these immigration programs if the violations are significant enough to warrant such action.
Every employer that hires an H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 worker is at risk of an investigation by DOL’s WHD. Larrabee Albi Coker LLP not only helps defend employers investigated by WHD, but also proactively partners with employers to review their compliance with these regulations, as well as determine an employer’s potential risk for a WHD investigation. We also work with companies to develop policies and processes to enable the company to meet its immigration-related obligations associated with the H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 visa programs.
Export control and deemed export licensing goes hand-in-hand with the employment of foreign nationals. While Larrabee Albi Coker LLP focuses strictly on immigration matters, we also advise employers of the Department of Commerce’s coordination with USCIS on the export control and deemed export licensing requirements with respect to the release of technology, technical data, and other information to foreign nationals working with companies.
Compliance with these laws can affect and significantly delay the immigration process. At Larrabee Albi Coker LLP we coordinate with experts in this complex intersection of immigration and export compliance to ensure employers are aware of the laws so that they ensure that they are in compliance with federal export licensing requirements.
The employment of foreign workers brings with it a set of various challenges that may not be evident immediately. As with other employment policies, it is generally very helpful to have a written policy to establish the corporate standard with respect to immigration benefits for foreign workers. Many foreign workers – when determining which offer to accept or to which company they will apply – evaluate companies based on the immigration-related benefits, such as the types of fees that will be covered, the company’s support for the green card process, and travel expenses to obtain visas at U.S. consular posts abroad. Immigration policies also educate foreign nationals on their and the company’s responsibilities with respect to the various immigration processes, as well as any potential liability in the event of a violation of immigration-related regulations and policies.
Larrabee Albi Coker LLP has significant experience working with employers to establish comprehensive immigration policies for start-ups, as well as established companies who see the need for and/or benefit of having a policy that can be consistently applied to aid and retain employees, as well as protect the company. An immigration policy assists companies with consistent application of immigration-related benefits for foreign nationals as well as guidelines for the various immigration compliance matters for which a company is responsible. We work with our clients to develop immigration policies that are tailored to the unique needs and culture of the companies, while addressing the important immigration-related benefits and obligations.
Although companies and corporate attorneys use due diligence checklists when preparing for a merger, acquisition or company reorganization, the immigration-related issues are very often overlooked. While tax issues are an important consideration, the impact on foreign workers who may be valuable employees should also be an important concern addressed during the due diligence process. Larrabee Albi Coker LLP partners with employers to review corporate events that may impact the immigration status and immigration-related processes for the company’s foreign workers employed in the U.S.
Significant issues that need to be addressed in the event of a merger, acquisition or corporate reorganization include I-9 and E-Verify processes and policies, nonimmigrant and permanent resident processes for foreign workers, as well as immigration-related compliance matters. Certain events may require filings with government agencies prior to and/or at the time of the event which often means preparing these filings well in advance of the merger, acquisition or corporate reorganization.
Larrabee Albi Coker LLP guides companies through this process to determine an appropriate and strategic course of action that will have the least impact on the immigration status of the foreign workers while at the same time comply with appropriate immigration-related laws and policies.