Updates on Policies Affecting U.S. Employers with Foreign National Employees

What Employers Need to Know About an H-1B Visa

The current administration has made some big changes to immigration policies. These changes will have a significant impact both on employers and their foreign national employees.

Public Input for Remote Inspection of the Form I-9

The Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification is used to verify the identity of employees and their authorization to work in the US. In order to do these, employers have previously been required to physically inspect employees’ documents except in cases where work was conducted exclusively remotely. The Form I-9 could then be completed and stored in case of future inspections.

However, once the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allowed employers to perform a remote examination of documents in cases where employees could not physically come into the workplace. This policy has since been extended until December 31st, 2021.

However, following that announcement, the DHS has published a request for input from the public in the Federal Register for a 60 day period regarding their experiences with the flexible remote examination of documents and their thoughts on making the remote examination of documents permanent. This indicated that the agency is certainly considering making a permanent remote examination policy which could be extremely beneficial for some employers, and comments are open for submission until December 27th, 2021.

Ending of Worksite Raids

The DHS has recently announced that the current administration would be bringing an end to the worksite raids. According to a memorandum from the agency’s secretary, the agency will instead focus on punishing exploitative employers that fail to comply with immigration and labor laws. In order to comply with this new policy, several immigration agencies will look to create new policies and procedures to enforce these standards, which likely means more audits. Employers should attempt to audit their own procedures to ensure compliance.

Spousal EADs Receive Automatic Extensions

Earlier in November, US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued an announcement that certain E, L, and H-4 dependent spouses would receive an automatic extension of their employment authorization document’s (EAD) validity. This will apply to eligible spouses that have filed for an extension and possess a Form I-94 or eligible status that has not expired. The automatic extension will expire after 180 days or as soon as the application is denied or the individual’s Form I-94 expires. Additionally, E and L spouses will receive modified form I-94s that will show that they grant employment authorization as a part of their status, meaning that they will no longer have to file Form I-765 to request work authorization.

Employer Takeaways

The current administration has made a number of changes to the immigration and works authorization policy, and this is bound to make it confusing for many employers. With changes to valid documentation for the Form I-9, new policies likely on the way for Form I-9 documentation review, and increasing enforcement from the DHS, it is more important than ever to ensure compliance with employment eligibility verification. The best way to do this is with an electronic I-9 management tool. This can guide hiring personnel through every step of the process and ensure compliance with current requirements.