IMMIGRATION-RELATED AUDITS: WHAT EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW.

There are three potential “hot spots” for audits and investigations for the government related to the immigration and nationality laws. The first has to do with the documentation that the employer is required to maintain in connection with the H-1B nonimmigrant professional and specialty and occupation worker visa. The second area of potential audit concerns the employer’s obligations under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (“IRCA”) [Pub. L. No. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359] (known to HR Professionals as the “I-9 Process”). The third, and one more recent, area of audit surrounds the new Labor Certification Application Program called “Permanent Electronic Review Management” (“PERM”). Each of the foregoing government programs anticipates compliance through “audit”. Even a rudimentary understanding of the complex documentary requirements for each of these programs can help and employer to avoid potential liability.

First, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) regulations that govern the maintenance of professional and specialty foreign national worker require an organization to develop and produce certain documents concerning the wages and the working conditions of an H-1B nonimmigrant. These documents are referred to as the Public Access File (“PAF”). The PAF documents are required to be maintained at the H-1B worksite immediately after the employer files the Labor Condition Application (“LCA”) with the DOL. The employer is well-situated to ensure they maintain PAF documents and be sure that they continue to pay the H-1B nonimmigrant the specified wage on the LCA. Under the American Competitiveness and Workplace Improvement Act (“ACWIA”), an H-1B nonimmigrant must be offered the same company benefits as those offered to “similarly situated” non-H-1B employees in the organization.

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