The impact of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration is growing as employers must contend with a surge in workplace immigration investigations and more stringent regulations.
In keeping with his campaign pledge of protecting jobs for American workers, President Donald Trump has made immigration a top priority. Much of the emphasis has been on deporting illegal workers, but employers have also been in the crosshairs of immigration enforcement agencies.
According to new statistics from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), worksite audits and investigations in the first seven months of this fiscal year are already well ahead of the totals from fiscal year 2017. From October 2017 to May 2018, ICE conducted 3,510 worksite investigations and opened 2,282 audits of I-9 employment eligibility verification forms, as compared to 1,716 investigations and 1,360 I-9 audits during all of FY 2017.
The increase follows a directive from ICE’s acting director Thomas Homan last year to increase workplace enforcement by "four or five times." This has led to some headline-grabbing cases, including the arrest of 800 undocumented workers at a Chicago bakery and the targeting of nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the nation.
Hiring Immigrant Workers Gets Harder
In addition to stepping up their enforcement agenda, federal agencies are focusing on revising immigration rules in an effort to make it harder for employers to obtain immigrant workers, according to Sarah Maxwell, an immigration attorney with Vedder Price in Los Angeles. She reviewed the shifting regulatory landscape during a recent Envoy Global webinar.
As an example of tightening rules, Maxwell cited a recent memo regarding the H-1B visa program in which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services imposed added requirements for employers seeking to place workers off-site.
The H-1B program offers a limited number of nonimmigrant visas each year for guestworkers in specialty occupations. The initial visa period lasts up to three years, and H-1B status can be extended up to three additional years.
Under the new requirements for H-1B visa holders placed at third-party worksites, employers "must demonstrate that they have specific and non-speculative qualifying assignments in a specialty occupation for the visa holder for the entire time requested on the petition," the guidance states.
For a lot of employers, this is extremely onerous, Maxwell said. "Imagine hiring a foreign worker for an attorney position and having to dictate to the USCIS every single project that she will be working on for the entire three-year period with some level of detail." In some cases, it could be impossible, she added.
Employers unable to specify all of the work that would be performed over the three-year period will in many cases find that the USCIS will reduce the visa period to one year to reflect the amount of work that can be fully substantiated, Maxwell said.
Other potential immigration rule changes that are in the works include the following:
Employers have their work cut out for them in staying abreast of developments in this rapidly changing area. In an environment of ramped up enforcement and tighter regulations, HR departments play a particularly important role in monitoring their organizations’ practices and ensuring compliance with workplace immigration law.
International HR Decision Support Network provides resources, including labor and employment law primers on more than 75 countries, to help you stay compliant and develop policies for your international operations. Start your free trial today.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)