The Importance of Immigration Reform & Navigating Employer Status

equifax logoI am live blogging from the Equifax Forum in New Orleans this week and let me tell you, I have never seen this much passion and attention given to areas such as compliance, analytics and technology.  The feeling in the general sessions is electric and fun, not words you’d normally equate to some of the more serious aspects of HR administration.  That said, it’s the perfect atmosphere to reinforce these aspects of the HR leader’s role in a way that helps customers and encourages them that the work they are doing is valuable to the health of the organization.

I had the pleasure of attending a breakout session called “Navigating the Immigration Landscape in 2015”.  As someone who has led HR departments where immigration played a role in our hiring, I was excited for the opportunity to hear the latest information.  According to Montserrat Miller, attorney at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, there are several programs HR leaders should be familiar with.  In 2012, the President stated a series of actions he planned to take over the course of time (recommended by the Dept of Homeland Security) to implement immigration reform.  The two most controversial program components are:

  • Expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
  • Extend DAPA (Deferred Action to Parents of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents).

If you’re not familiar with DACA, in 2012 the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that children who arrived in the US as undocumented could apply to defer deportation if they met some specific criteria.  If approved, they could have certain consideration such as being eligible for work authorization for a two-year period as well as Social Security numbers.  Even though they can work under DACA, they do not have lawful status. There are a host of criteria that you can find along with information on applying and if you’re an employer, resources for your organization.

The other program decision was to extend DAPA (Deferred Action to Parents of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents).  This program temporarily protects millions of immigrants who come to the US and are not documented.  The program is controversial because it blocks the deportation of these immigrants.  Ms. Miller gave insights on each of the programs and let attendees know that these are important programs to stay apprised of since it could affect some of your employees.

Along with the immigration updates, Ms. Miller shared information that HR and recruiting leaders should be aware of.  A shocking fact is that eleven states are now giving State Driver’s Licenses to people who are undocumented.  As employers, we should not assume that just because an individual has a driver’s license he/ she has authorization to work in the US.  Using diligence around your I-9 process, typically through E-Verify, is the way to ensure you don’t make hiring mistakes in your intake process.

The speakers then pivoted to discuss the terms of new ways of working.  According to Jason Fry, there is a fast growing population of employees who will never work in your organization’s offices.  He shared a graph from the Wall Street Journal that showed in 2010, there were over 1.4M employees in management, business and financial positions working from home.  This was a 41% change from 2000.

Since HR leaders will come across remote workers, they were tips provided for handling these types of workers from a compliance standpoint.

  • When completing an I-9, you need to ensure you have a trusted agent in that employee’s city to act as an authorized representative of your company.  This can include a lawyer, notary or onsite management employee.
  • Always make sure you observe the 3-day rule, even with remote employees.
  • Ensure that all authorized representatives have your Standard Operating Procedures for completing the I-9.  Failure to complete accurately can result in multiple fines per form if audited.

The final word on immigration and compliance remains being diligent in all interactions you have with potential employees when it comes to documentation.  Having a clear understanding of your state and federal rules will help ensure your compliance.  Additionally, having a partner who can keep you apprised of any legislative changes is a key recommendation.  I hope you’ll look for more blog posts from the Equifax Forum 15.  Thank you to Equifax for inviting several of our analysts.

-Trish McFarlane, VP and Principal Analyst, Human Resources, Brandon Hall Group @TrishMcFarlane

Like what you see? Share with a friend.

Trish McFarlane



Stay connected

Get notified for upcoming news subscribing

Related Content

Trish McFarlane

Resubscribe to our email distribution list.