Employers should be aware of two recent developments announced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative agency in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States.
ICE Serves New I-9 Notices of Inspection
On September 16, 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) served more than 500 new Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to companies throughout the United States. ICE has confirmed that the new NOIs were generated through investigative leads and intelligence and directed at businesses tied to critical infrastructure, public safety and key resource industries, which allegedly engage in hiring unauthorized workers and paying employees unfair wages or otherwise exploiting workers.
This latest audit initiative is consistent with the immigration enforcement strategy announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary in April 2009, which shifted the focus of worksite enforcement from unauthorized workers to the employers that hire them.
ICE's continuing audit initiatives clearly reflects the agency's "get tough" approach with employers that do not comply with employment eligibility verification laws. These days, when ICE comes calling, employers should expect that government investigations will likely result in increased civil penalties, as well as criminal prosecutions of company executives, owners and managers for harboring illegal aliens and/or knowingly hiring undocumented workers. Having experienced counsel on hand at the outset of a government investigation is essential to successfully navigating a government investigation and avoiding the imposition of substantial civil and criminal penalties.
USCIS Announces Final Rule Adjusting Fee for Immigration Benefits
On September 23, 2010, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a final rule adjusting fees for immigration applications and petitions. The final rule will increase overall fees by a weighted average of about 10 percent. The final rule was published in the Federal Register September 24, 2010, and the adjusted fees will go into effect on November 23, 2010.
The schedule available at this link lists the adjusted fees that will take effect on November 23, 2010, alongside the existing fees in effect until that date.
For more information, please contact Vinh Duong (Immigration) or Marcus Crider (Labor & Employment) at 800-487-6380.
The opinions expressed in this bulletin are intended for general guidance only. They are not intended as recommendations for specific situations. As always, readers should consult a qualified attorney for specific legal guidance.