It’s a New Year, and Happy New Year to all!
I thought I’d put together a quick punch list of some immigration to-do’s, aka resolutions, to kick the year off right. These are lawyerly resolutions and not quite as interesting as going to the gym, Europe, or a dating site, but I offer here some practical steps that might prove helpful.
- Conduct a self-audit of the company’s I-9 verification files. A stitch in time saves nine. We recommend self-audits at least once per year. Government inspections don’t come often, but when they do, the fines can be disproportionate to this reality. The Government typically serves a three-day Notice of Inspection to turn over I-9s, and statistics show that a scary proportion of I-9s have paperwork and substantive errors, which can mean big fines, even for the small employer.
- Take a free webinar hosted by USCIS on I-9 compliance, E-Verify, or Employee Rights. Webinars are available on-line via USCIS.
- Audit the Public Access Files for labor condition applications. H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 employers must file labor condition applications in order to obtain the status, and these filings require the maintenance of public access files. These files require maintenance, as per regulations. The New Year is a good time to schedule a time to check in on these.
- Assess green card sponsorship opportunities and costs. These applications take time and cost money. Some applications are time-sensitive. The time limitations are inherent with some statuses, such as Hs and Ls, and sometimes family members aging out of eligibility is a serious concern. The applications take time to plan and then act on. For example, the labor certification process–one approach–can take two years, just to get through the Department of Labor phase of the process.
- Check on the I-94 admission documents for all nonimmigrants. CBP is moving away from stamping passports, and so persons who depart and then re-enter the U.S. need to pull their I-94s from CBP’s website, to verify the expiration date of their authorized stay. Sometimes people are surprised to find out they expire sooner than expected, such as when they are granted less time due to a passport expiration date. Avoid the crisis: check the I-94 website!
- Are noncitizens current with their AR-11 change of address filing obligations? The law says a change of address form must be filed within 10 days of moving.
- Assess possible H-1B applications for March. The electronic registration process for the H-1B lottery should occur in March, based on past years. January is the time for identifying possible applicants, in-house or elsewhere, and assessing viability.
Here’s wishing all who come this way a terrific 2023!