With the first snow fall on the books, the end of the year is truly upon us. Many businesses are turning their focus to 2019 planning. For those using foreign labor, immigration policy changes could have a big impact on next year’s plans. Here are three tips to make sure your business is prepared.

  1. Dot your I-9’s and cross your T’s. Starting this year, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rolled out a new, more robust compliance investigation program. Under federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all individuals they hire, and to document that information using the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. ICE uses the I-9 inspection program to promote compliance with the law.[1] Over 5,000 Notices of Inspection (NOI) have been issued so far in 2018[2], and those numbers seem likely to continue next year. A failed inspection can result in significant fines, and even criminal charges for those willfully refusing to comply with requirements. In FY17, businesses were ordered to pay $97.6 million in judicial forfeitures, fines and restitution, and $7.8 million in civil fines.[3] Having all your paperwork properly completed and recorded could very well save your business.
  1. The early bird gets the worker. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced this summer that all applications, petitions or requests (other than Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) adjudications) received after September 11, 2018, will be under more streamlined review. From 2013 to 2018, reviewing authorities were often required to issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) where information was lacking, providing the applicant an opportunity to correct any deficiency. Under the new guidance, an application missing necessary information or supporting documentation can be denied without sending the RFE or NOID. This could result in applicants missing key deadlines, or, under other new guidance[4], result in deportation proceedings being initiated. Be prepared to submit complete, well-documented applications early in order to have a cushion period if you have to reapply.
  1. New year, new handbook. With the recent flurry of activity related to immigration, it may be a good time to consider updating your best practices. Showing your company is familiar and working toward compliance with USCIS’s guidance will look good to any reviewing authority, and it serves the more important purpose of putting your current or future employees on notice of the administration’s changes.

If your business uses foreign labor, the next few years could see a dramatic change in trajectory. Be sure to keep up to date with the administration’s guidance and reflect those changes in your company’s day to day operations. For a review of your policies or for further help with immigration issues, contact Goosmann Law Firm at 712-226-4000.


[1] https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-delivers-more-5200-i-9-audit-notices-businesses-across-us-2-phase-nationwide

[2] NOI issuance has already increased by more than 350% over FY 2017.

[3] Id. One company alone, Asplundh Tree Experts, Co., paid $95 million dollars, the largest payment ever levied in an immigration caase. https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/asplundh-tree-experts-co-pays-largest-civil-settlement-agreement-ever-levied-ice

[4] PM-602-0050.1 allows for issuance of a Notice to Appear upon denial of an application for any reason, including lack of documentation. https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Memoranda/2018/2018-06-28-PM-602-0050.1-Guidance-for-Referral-of-Cases-and-Issuance-of-NTA.pdf

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