Houston, Texas – Businesses that hire H-1B specialty occupation visa workers should be mindful of an increase in audits by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS has its inspectors go on-site to these businesses and also audits I-9 forms for compliance. Non-compliant employers will face penalties, so it is recommended to get legal counsel involved early on to ensure a business’s hiring and documentation processes are done correctly.
The USCIS Administrative Site Visit and Verification Program can check any business in any industry to verify that they are not employing undocumented workers. They also want to check that the company is a true operating business and the foreign worker is employed in the capacity listed on the paperwork. If an issue does come up during the audit, the USCIS gives notice to the business and the company can then respond to the charges before a petition is denied, revoked, or the company is assessed a penalty.
“Businesses are better off if they seek an immigration attorney at the initial stages,” said Houston immigration attorney Annie Banerjee. “Many U.S. businesses reach out to foreign workers for their technical or theoretical expertise. Getting an immigration attorney early on as a business sponsors an individual will make a company more compliant with the increase of paperwork and documentation.”
The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee recommends that employers set up their foreign hiring practices for success by designating a human resources manager to be the go-to person for foreign new hires. This manager should keep copies of all documents – passports, notices from USCIS, I-94 forms – for each new hire. This file should also have information on the business’ sponsorship, including the prevailing wage figures and compensation system, labor condition application, and complete I-129 and 129 supplement forms.
“A contact person is very important so that if a site visit or audit occurs, the business is prepared to show they are compliant,” said Banerjee, who has more than 10 years of experience in immigration law.
Documents on the foreign new hire should be kept for one year after their last date of employment. When inspectors come to a business, they will want to confirm the H-1B employee’s work history, job title, salary and oftentimes will inspect payroll records. The USCIS, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, can assess a penalty of $110 for every paperwork violation up to $16,000 per each unauthorized worker.
Banerjee cautions that filling out the forms and hiring foreign workers should not be taken lightly. Thousands of businesses are audited each year and some human resources and business managers simply did not take the time to fill out the I-9 forms correctly. The USCIS has a 60-page handbook for employers on the subject to fill it out thoroughly.
The Law Offices of Annie Banerjee counsels biotech, IT, oil and gas, and multinational manufacturing companies throughout Houston and Texas. Houston immigration lawyer Annie Banerjee also helps small businesses and assists family members of H-1B applicants, too. Her expertise will help expedite the application, so the best chances for approval before the H-1B cap is reached can be met.
For more information:
Law Offices of A. Banerjee
131 Brooks Street Suite #300
Sugar Land, Texas 77478
Phone: (281) 242-9139
Fax: (281) 242-2058
2027 Sheridan Street
Houston, Texas 77030
Phone: (713) 793-6339
To learn more, visit https://www.visatous.com.